Mass Stranding of Beaked Whales Occurs During NATO Exercises in Canary Islands

25th Sep 2002 Yesterday 24th of September, at least 12 beaked whales of 3 species (Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon densirostris and Mesoplodon europaeus) stranded in the coasts of the Canary Islands (Spain). At least one in Lanzarote and 11 in Fuerteventura. This mass stranding occurred during NATO naval exercises of great magnitude in the area, involving many ships and submarines.

More strandings are expected during the following hours. The Environmental Department of the Government of the Canary Islands is coordinating all the efforts to investigate and deal with this mass stranding, while the SECAC (Society for the Study of Cetaceans in the Canary Archipielago) was carrying out field work with the stranded animals.

At least four animals were live stranded, and re-introduced to the open sea. Necropsies of dead animals were carried out yesterday until late at night, and the heads were sent in a fridge truck to the labs of the Faculty of Veterinary for a more detailed examination (scanners, etc.).

Authorities from the Government of the Canary Islands asked the NATO to stop all military manouvres in the area.

In this moment, the coasts are being surveyed by members of SECAC in order to find more animals, as there are some notices of more animals stranding in Lanzarote.

For more information, please contact

Vidal Martin (SECAC): ziphius@teide.net and cetocanarias@iespana.es