OERS
Canadian Marine Mammal Rescue Network
 
   

World Wide Marine Mammal Strandings – Is it Species Specific and a Cause for Concern?

Askin Nesime1,3, Belanger Michael 2,3, Hill Eileen1,3, Wittnich Carin 1,2,3

(1) Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, MSB Rm 7256, 1 King’s College Circle, Toronto OntarioM8Z 3C2, Canada
(2) Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, MSB Rm 7256, 1 King’s College Circle, TorontoOntarioM8Z 3C2, Canada
(3) Oceanographic Environmental Research Society, 12 Burton Avenue, Barrie, OntarioL4N 2R2, Canada

Strandings of cetaceans and pinnipeds are evidence of marine environmental stress and continues to occur despite efforts to improve this environment. This study examined the global incidence of strandings over 4 decades. A stranding is defined as one animal found either dead/alive on the beach and/or trapped in man-made objects (e.g. nets, lines, etc).

Available stranding reports for cetaceans and pinnipeds from the United Kingdom (U.K.), California U.S.A., Florida U.S.A., and Queensland Australia were summarized in the table below.

 

Number of Strandings per Year

Location

1978

1990

1995

1999/2000

2001/2002

2003/2004

U.K.

 

144

265

421

655

776

California, U.S.A

 

1321

1663

2012

2550

 

Florida, U.S.A.

67

230

304

287

217

334

Queensland, Australia

 

 

 

43/53

46/45

 

In the U.K., the number of stranded marine mammals had a 5 fold increase over 14 years, in contrast California had a 2 fold increase, Florida had a 5 fold increase over 26 years while Australia had no change over a 4 year period. Based on geographical location, certain species had a greater number of strandings per year. For instance, in the U.K.

Harbour porpoises comprised 31% of strandings in 1990 and rose to 41% in 2003 with a spike of 47% in 1999. However in California, sea lions comprised 93% of all strandings both in 1990 and 2002. Strandings of Florida Bottlenose dolphins rose from 52% in 1978 to 73% in 2004.

Every geographical location had a dramatic rise in stranding numbers as well as a sharp increase in strandings of specific indigenous species. Despite current regulations to protect the marine environment, stranding numbers continue to grow and threaten marine mammal populations.


Presented as a poster at the 16th Annual SMM Conference


 

 
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