Cuvier’s beaked whale mass stranding event in Cyprus due to acoustic trauma.
On February 9-13, 2023 a total of 12 beaked whales were stranded in Cyprus, none survived. The results of the necropsy made on 5 individuals showed a general haemorrhagic appearance in the organs -specially the head and ear canal- due to gas embolism caused by the change in the normal diving behavior during the escape from a sound source.
Beaked whales – classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List – are known to experience acoustic trauma caused by low and medium frequency sonars used in naval exercises and seismic surveys for oil/natural gas exploration. For this reason, the Parties of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) decided in 2013 to abstain from conducting naval exercises using sonar or underwater explosions around the “Areas of Special Concern for Beaked Whales” (Resolution 5.13).
According to the NAVTEX data obtained, navy exercises with firing in large areas of the island were planned in February 2023. Countries should cease their planned/unplanned naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean to prevent damage on fragile habitats and vulnerable fauna and flora species like the Cuvier´ s beaked whale.
Reference: Basat, K (2023). Cuvier´s Beaked Whale Mass Stranding Event (Preliminary Report) https://simplebooklet.com/cuviersbeakedwhalemassstrandingeventpreliminaryreport