On April 1st, 2014, the Hellenic Ministry of Environment was alerted by the Port Authority of Ierapetra at Southern Crete, Greece and contacted Dr . Anastasia Komnenou, Veterinarian and Professor of the Veterinary School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and President of the Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Research Center – ARION, that there is a mass stranding of whales at the broader area of Ierapetra in Southern Crete, Greece.
Dr. Komnenou made the necessary contacts with the local port authorities to learn more details and collaborated with Dr . Aimilia Drougas, Oceanographer and Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Research Center – ARION Scientific Coordinator and with Dr . Alexandros Frantzis Biologist-Oceanographer of the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute and agreed to let Dr. Michael Spyridakis, Veterinarian and member of ARION’s network of veterinarians to go in situ, for an autopsy and to collect data that will help to understand the cause of this event.
First indications show that two adult Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris sp.) were stranded alive during noon time, at Kastri beach, Viannou which is located about 15 km west of Ierapetra. The whales seemed unstable and banged towards the rocks near the beach. With the effort of local residents the two whales were led to the open sea and slowly they left. At the same time, three other beaked whales (two adults and one younger in age which we do not know if they were the same animals) stranded alive showing similar symptoms, at the rocky coast of Kalikovrechti, located about 2 km west of Ierapetra. The port authorities and local residents managed to lead the youngest and one of the adult whale to the open sea. The third adult Cuvier’s beaked whale died and necropsy will be done, in order to collect tissue samples for verifying the cause of death.
We also note that these days, in the broader region, there are tri-lateral exercises of Greece, Israel and NATO’s navy using sonars. Ziphiidae ear drums are affected from the low frequency sonars by air empolism.
Given the seriousness of the situation and because in the past they have been and other similar mass strandings of Cuvier’s beaked whales, on coasts of western and southern Greece, the incident is monitored by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Hellenic Marine Research Centre, the Institute of Cetacean Research , Pelagos and the Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Research Center – ARION.
Local authorities and local residents and volunteers of Southern Crete, have been alerted and ready in the coming hours and days, to immediately notify the port authorities and the above organizations, in case other marine mammals strand on the coast of the broader region.
bron: MARMAM mailing list, https://lists.uvic.ca/mailman/