Subject: Goosebeak Whale Strandings (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 14 Mar 1999 09:40:13 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999 13:47:32 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Goosebeak Whale Strandings (fwd)


Following the interest, from several sources, in an article on Goosebeak
whale strandings by Antonio Mignucci-Giannoni and Paul Rosario-Delestre
which was published in vol. 1 edition 2 of "Whale World" magazine, please
find the article posted below

Dr Kevin Robinson
Contributing Editor, Whale World magazine


Mass Stranding of Goosebeak Whales in Puerto Rico

By Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni and Paul J. Rosario-Delestre

A mass stranding of five goosebeak whales (Ziphius cavirostris) occurred
on July 29 and 30 1998 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Caribbean Stranding
Network (CSN), a local non-profit scientific and conservation organisation
based at the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, attended the stranding
which involved one adult female and four males.

Goosebeak whales are a cosmopolitan cetacean belonging to the family of
beaked whales. They are an offshore species, commonly known to strand
throughout the world, but rarely in large numbers.

The largest animal in the stranding measured 5.3 m while the smallest was
about 4.5 m in length. Local agencies aided the CSN in handling the
emergency. CSN personnel with over a dozen volunteers and intern
college-students spent over 24 hours tending to the stranded animals.

Most of the animals were externally in good shape, apart from scratches
caused by being stranded on the rocks. The female, the first to strand,
was found in the worst shape. The two last animals to strand did so alive
but, after rescuing and examining the animals, the decision was made by
the CSN and Puerto Rico=92s Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources to euthanise them, given their condition, logistical
difficulties, and the slim possibilities of their successful
rehabilitation. At present there are no facilities in Puerto Rico to
rehabilitate large cetaceans.

Necropsies were conducted on each animal, documenting gross findings,
taking tissues for histopathology and collecting parasites from the
blubber; stomach, liver and kidneys. Skin tissue was collected for future
genetic work. The large male was found to have signs of a cookie-cutter
shark bite. All animals were found to have squid beaks and deep-water
shrimp in their stomachs. The skull of each animal was collected for the
CSN scientific collection; the remainders of the carcasses were either
buried or towed out to sea.

Whilst a number of single strandings of Ziphius have been recorded in
Puerto Rico, this is the third multiple stranding of goosebeak whales in
the north-eastern Caribbean. In 1965, an epizootic event occurred in the
south and eastern coast of Puerto Rico when 11 Ziphius stranded in La
Parguera, Patillas on the eastern coast of the island, between December
1965 and March 1966. In February 1991, four goosebeaks stranded in St.
Croix in the US Virgin Islands. The event in Puerto Rico is probably the
fourteenth mass stranding recorded world-wide for this species.

Dr. Antonio. A. Mignucci-Giannoni is the Scientific Co-ordinator for the
CSN and is Associate Professor at the Universidad Metropolitana in San
Juan, Puerto Rico. Paul Rosario is a student at the Interamerican
University in San Juan, working on a research project on beaked whales in
the Caribbean.

For further information contact:
P0 Box 361715, San Juan, PR 00936, USA.
Tel. & Fax. (787) 767 8009.
Web Page:

WW is a publication produced by the non-profit, UK-based organisation Natur=
Alert. It is a benefit to Nature Alert members and is a 50/50 colour and B/=
magazine with feature articles and superb photography. Annual membership
costs 10 pounds sterling to either UK or overseas supporters who receive 2
editions of WW a year.

Inquiries/applications for membership should be addressed to:

Whale World
Nature Alert
P.O. Box 2060
Bath BA1 3YB
England UK
Tel/Fax: + 44 1225 444929

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