Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme: report May 2017

May has been a slightly quieter month than April with only 24 stranding reports, these comprised 10 seals, 13 cetaceans.

There were only 4 reports of grey seals. Three from the east coast, including an animal found 20 miles up the river Tweed in the Scottish Borders. The animal was found on Lewis. None were suitable for recovered for necropsy. There no reports of a harbour seals this month. There were a further six seals that were too decomposed or data deficient for speciation, three from the east coast, one from the west coast and two from the Western Isles (Lewis and Benbecula).

There were just 13 cetacean stranding reports which is almost half the number reported in April, these comprised of five species. The most commonly reported cetacean this month was the harbour porpoise with 13 being reported. Eight from the east coast, three from the west coast including Tiree and Islay and one each from Orkney and Shetland. Two animals were recovered for necropsy and three were sampled. Thanks to Pippa at North 58 Sea Adventures for collecting the carcases for us and Matt Smith, Steve Nagy ,Stephanie Cope and Sarah Dolman for samples. The majority of these animals were victim of bottlenose dolphin attacks

The next most commonly reported cetaceans were minke whales and common dolphins with three each reported. Two common dolphins from the west coast and one from the west coast (Rum) and one from the north coast. None of these were recovered for necropsy. Of the three minke whales, two were from the east coast and one was entangled of Skye. Only one of these was necropsied a juvenile female from near Leuchars, Fife. This animal was found to have live stranded and examination of the brain would suggest a meningoencephalitis.

There were two common dolphins reported this one from the Solway Firth and one from North Uist, neither were recovered for necropsy.

A single very decomposed sperm whale washed up on the noth coast of the Shetland mainland. Thanks to Jan and Pete from Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary for going out to get photos for us.

There was also a single fairly decomposed bottlenose dolphin calf recovered from Avoch on the Moray firth, there is some debate of whether this is Kesslet’s (one of the resident population) calf. Unfortunately due to the state of the carcase we couldn’t confirm this or establish a cause of death
In other news the SMASS team attended the 31st European Cetacean Societies annual conference in Middelfart, Denmark. We gave presentations and posters on Distribution and pathology of fatal entanglements in large marine animals in Scotland and Brucella ceti infection in a Risso’s Dolphin, and attended workshops of grey seal predation and persistent organic pollutants in marine mammals.

Source: FB SMASS