Mass strandings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are rare in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, in 2014 a pod of 7 specimens stranded alive along the Italian coast of the Central Adriatic Sea: 3 individuals died on the beach after a few hours due to internal damages induced by prolonged recumbency; the remaining 4 whales were refloated after great efforts. All the dead animals were genetically related females; one was pregnant. All the animals were infected by dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) and the pregnant whale was also affected by a severe nephropathy due to a large kidney stone. Other analyses ruled out other possible relevant factors related to weather conditions or human activities. The results of multidisciplinary post-mortem analyses revealed that the 7 sperm whales entered the Adriatic Sea encountering adverse weather conditions and then kept heading northward following the pregnant but sick leader of the pod, thereby reaching the stranding site. DMV infection most likely played a crucial role in impairing the health condition and orientation abilities of the whales. They did not steer back towards deeper waters, but eventually stranded along the Central Adriatic Sea coastline, a real trap for sperm whales.

Mazzariol, S., Centelleghe, C., Cozzi, B., Povinelli, M., Marcer, F., Ferri, N., et al. (2018). Multidisciplinary studies on a sick-leader syndrome-associated mass stranding of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) along the Adriatic coast of Italy. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 8(1) [10.1038/s41598-018-29966-7].

Multidisciplinary studies on a sick-leader syndrome-associated mass stranding of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) along the Adriatic coast of Italy

Marsili, Letizia;Fossi, Maria Cristina;
2018

Abstract

Mass strandings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are rare in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, in 2014 a pod of 7 specimens stranded alive along the Italian coast of the Central Adriatic Sea: 3 individuals died on the beach after a few hours due to internal damages induced by prolonged recumbency; the remaining 4 whales were refloated after great efforts. All the dead animals were genetically related females; one was pregnant. All the animals were infected by dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) and the pregnant whale was also affected by a severe nephropathy due to a large kidney stone. Other analyses ruled out other possible relevant factors related to weather conditions or human activities. The results of multidisciplinary post-mortem analyses revealed that the 7 sperm whales entered the Adriatic Sea encountering adverse weather conditions and then kept heading northward following the pregnant but sick leader of the pod, thereby reaching the stranding site. DMV infection most likely played a crucial role in impairing the health condition and orientation abilities of the whales. They did not steer back towards deeper waters, but eventually stranded along the Central Adriatic Sea coastline, a real trap for sperm whales.
Mazzariol, S., Centelleghe, C., Cozzi, B., Povinelli, M., Marcer, F., Ferri, N., et al. (2018). Multidisciplinary studies on a sick-leader syndrome-associated mass stranding of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) along the Adriatic coast of Italy. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 8(1) [10.1038/s41598-018-29966-7].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11365/1058891