Injured Cuvier’s beaked whale found dead in Greece

Rocks and the whale in shallow water, half his body is above the water, animal news
The injured Cuvier’s beaked whale stranded near Athens, Greece, January 28, 2022, photo: Reuters/Costas Baltas

The injured Cuvier’s beaked whale, who stranded near Athens last week, was found dead on a nearby island on Wednesday, the Greek government said.

The young whale was spotted on an Athens beach late last week with an injury to his jaw. Veterinarians tried hydrating him and gave him antibiotics before guiding him back to sea on Friday evening.

Experts said the injury to his jaw most likely came from a ship’s propellers. Even though the whale swam away, hopes for his survival were not high.

Coastguards who were looking out for the Cuvier’s beaked whale found his remains on Salamis Island, west of Athens, the environment ministry said. It added that veterinarians would conduct tests to determine what caused his death.

“From the first clinical and blood tests that were carried out on the whale, we knew that the results were not encouraging,” deputy environment minister Georgios Amyras said.

Before the whale’s death, the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation said returning the whale to the sea was a “mistake”. Besides the injury to his jaw, blood tests showed the whale suffered from anaemia.

“It was a decision against all protocol and logic, given that he was sick and had multiple injuries,” the Greek organization said on Tuesday.

Archipelagos also complained about the “lack of adequate infrastructure to care for marine animals in Greece” and criticized the “huge mobilization and noise” caused by humans near the beached whale.

Cuvier’s beaked whales often get hurt from ship propellers. They are also very sensitive to “noise pollution” from human activity, Natascha Komninou, a professor at the University of Thessaloniki, told local news station Skai TV.

The number of vessels have grown immensely over the past decades, and whales are often struck by ships. The animals are often not able to avoid a collision and are also disoriented by underwater noise.

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