The injured Cuvier’s beaked whale, who stranded in Greece, has returned to deeper waters, officials said on Saturday. The young whale was found near the coast of Athens on Friday with a badly wounded lower jaw.
The Cuvier’s beaked whale was seen floating at a beach near the coastal suburb of Palaio Faliro, weakly moving his tail.
Blood tests showed he suffered from anaemia. “With such a major injury, things are difficult,” Natascha Komninou, head of the Arion cetacean rescue center, told local news station Skai TV.
The male beaked whale was hydrated and given antibiotics. After several hours he was escorted to open sea late on Friday, deputy environment minister Georgios Amyras told Greek news channel ERT.
“This is a deep sea animal…the longer it stays in shallow waters, the greater the damage to its health,” he said. The animal is now swimming near the southern island of Salamis, Amyras said, adding that his condition remained uncertain.
The dolphin-like whale usually lives in waters more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) deep. He was first spotted near the Athens coast on Thursday. He seemed to be uninjured at that time and was helped to swim away to open sea.
But when he returned, he had injuries to his beak, said Aimilia Drougas, oceanographer and co-founder of Arion cetacean rescue center. “It is very rare for this species. It is a very shy animal who does not approach people and favours great depths,” Drougas said.
Whales are often struck by ships, as the number and speed of vessels have grown immensely over the past decades. The animals are often unable to avoid a collision and are also disoriented by underwater noise.
Alexandros Frantzis, a marine biologist at the Pelagos Institute, told ERT the whale could have become disoriented because of ongoing seismic research for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Kyparissia in Greece. That part of the sea is one of the main habitats of Cuvier’s beaked whales.
“It’s one of the four most important habitats in the world for these animals. We are destroying their home…for hydrocarbons,” Frantzis said.
Hydrocarbons are used for crude oil, gas, coal, and other important energy sources to benefit humans.
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