Bottlenose Whale Stranding Event
The CWHC was recently requested to respond to the stranding of two northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) that had stranded in Quebec, across the Chaleur bay from Campbellton in northern New Brunswick. Both whales initially stranded alive, however one died overnight and the other was missing the following morning and is presumed to have refloated. A complete necropsy was performed that afternoon.
This whale was a subadult male in good nutritional condition with no grossly apparent predisposing conditions for stranding. A final report is pending further diagnostics to determine whether microscopic lesions or conditions may be at play that could have predisposed it to strand. These may include infectious diseases, toxin exposure, or possibly barotrauma due to sudden resurfacing (the bends). Bottlenose whales are part of the enigmatic “beaked whale” family and much concerning their biology and behaviour is unknown due to their deep prolonged dives (>1 hr at >1 km deep). The offshore Nova Scotia population (of which this whale is assumed to be a member) is listed as endangered under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), and the species as a whole is considered near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Many populations were heavily hunted to near extinction by whalers. Should further diagnostics on this case be unrewarding, the cause of stranding will be presumed to be due to unknown environmental conditions or roaming behaviours which lead these two whales to be so far from their normal geographical home range.
For more information regarding this endangered species, please visit the MARS website
Submitted by: Laura Bourque – CWHC Atlantic