Cetacean stranding locations

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun Oct 15 2000 - 03:15:04 EDT

>I'm wondering where I can find information on cetacean stranding "hotspots"
>around the world. This is, locations that consistently have a high
>frequency of
>marine mammal strandings.

There are a number of surveys/overviews/compilations of strandings records
for a variety of regions, but none that I know of that focus on "hot
spots." Such reports may not be useful for identifying true "hot spots"
because there is a bit of a bias of "discovered" strandings because of the
proximity to populated areas. However, there are a number of places where
strandings are more common.

Some areas, such as the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida, get a significant
number of strandings, but mostly of bottle nose dolphins. Other areas a
well known for a diversity of strandings. Monterey up to Point Reyes (norht
central California) is one of these places. The former environment has a
good number of coast dolphins, and so would expect to have an increased
number of stranded dolphins. Likewise, the lagoons of Baja, Mexico, have
concentrations of particular species, and so are expected to have a greater
concentration of strandings of those species. The latter type of area is
characterized by a confluence of micro environments, that is, warm water
with cool water, or other major bodies of water. Monterey Bay to the Gulf
of the Farallones is like that with a significant diversity of marine
mammals recorded.

Major confluences of water masses are typically a "hot spot" for
strandings. Faux Cape Marie in southern Madagascar is one such place where
waters from the Mozambique Channel and the western Indian Ocean (with some
influence of the Antarctic Convergence) come together. There are places in
southern Australia that are also 'Hot spots."

Jim Mead at the Smithsonian Inst. has reviews of strandings with details of
localities, especially of beaked whales. If I recall correctly, Izzy
Sczepaniak published an overview of strandings from Northern California.
That report should be available from the California Academy of Sciences.
Jan Roletto at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and
Shauna Bingham at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary may have
compiled records of strandings from California as well. The Southeast
Fisheries Science Center publishes a new letter that periodically lists
strandings from that region. Jorge Urban should be on top of things from
the western Sea of Cortez. From these and similar reports one can deduce
"hot spots," but be aware that strandings near populated or otherwise
frequented areas are biased. There may be spectacular areas for strandings
that are seldom visited by people (Faux Cape, Madagascar is one of these).

I hope this helps.

Pieter Folkens

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