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First Stranding of Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris) on the Danish North Sea Coast

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  • Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup
  • Charlotte Bie Thøstesen, Fisheries and Maritime Museum, Denmark
  • Peter Teglberg Madsen
  • Heidi Huus Petersen, Technical University of Denmark
  • ,
  • Tim Kåre Jensen, Technical University of Denmark - DTU, Denmark
  • Morten Tange Olsen, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Carl Kinze, CCKonsult, Cetacean Atlas of Denmark
We describe the biometrics, body condition and veterinary findings from the first stranding of a Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier, 1823) in Denmark. It was an adult male, with a single tooth (the right was missing). The animal appeared to be well fed (blubber thickness: 20-70 mm. and fat membranes on lungs) and had a body length of 581 cm. and a total weight of approximately 2500 kg. The back was covered with linear, parallel scarring caused by interactions with other males' teeth during combat. In addition, scattered scars were found in the skin derived from cookie cutter shark bites. Multiple small abscesses were found in the blubber, probably due to parasites. The organ weights for this species are published for the first time here in this paper. The length of the intestines was 15.5 meter. Histopathologically, the lungs were characterized by mild purulent pneumonia and the liver revealed hepatic steatosis Clostridium sardiniensis and Paeniclostridium sordellii were observed in the lungs and liver. The gastrointestinal tract, including 10 stomach chambers, contained only traces of food and two smaller pieces of plastic in the stomach. Nematode parasites (not species-determined) were found in the intestines. Sexual organs indicated full maturity. Both kidneys showed moderate infestation with the nematode Crassicauda crassicauda forming calcified granulomas. The exact cause of death was unknown, but the whale was ill with purulent pneumonia and an agonal septicemia. Furthermore, it can be speculated that
storms may have lead the whale astray eventually causing its stranding within the so-called North Sea trap.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Mammals
Pages (from-to)303-310
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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