Stranding of two sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the "North Sea trap" at Henne Strand, Denmark

Mette Sif Hansen, Aage K. O. Alstrup, Jørgen H. Hansen, Mohammad Nafi Solaiman Al-Sabi, Bettina Nonnemann, Lasse F. Jensen, Abdi Hedayat, Trine H. Jensen

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    In February 2014 two male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) stranded at Henne Strand, Denmark. One whale (MCE 1644) was found dead, while the other (MCE 1645) was still alive, but drowned during the high tide. To increase our knowledge of sperm whales, conduct forage investigations, post-mortem and diagnostic examinations were carried out. The decay of the carcasses progressed quickly. The whales had large (MCE 1644) or moderate (MCE 1645) numbers of squid beaks (Gonatus fabricii) in the stomachventricles, but no evidence of recentfresh feeding. Both whales had acute dermatitis probably due to trauma during the stranding and skin lesions which could be related to inter – or intraspecific interactions. MCE 1644 had large quantities of bloody fluid in the thorax and bacteriology revealed many Clostridium septicum withherein. Clostridium septicum, a normal commensal in the intestinal tract, can cause severe localized or systemic infections. The finding of large volumes of bloody pleural fluid with large quantities of C. septicum suggests that MCE 1644 died of infection. However, reservations must be taken due to the pronounced decay of the carcass. Sperm whales have strong social bonds where they follow each other, which could explain why MCE 1645 stranded alive without signs of disease.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAquatic Mammals
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)35-41
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Aquatic Science
    • Nature and Landscape Conservation
    • Physeter catodon
    • Physeteridae


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