18 December 2012

Fin whales in the Adriatic

The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is the largest cetacean species regularly inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea. Despite that, information on its presence, abundance and distribution in some areas of the basin are still missing or scant. A new paper, authored by  Tethys researcher Nino Pierantonio, has been published on this subject.
The Adriatic Sea is one of those areas. The presence of fin whales in the region dates back to centuries ago, but our knowledge on its historical and present abundance and distribution are limited. As recently reported, long-term validated stranding records faithfully reflect the number of species and their relative abundance found in live surveys within a certain area. Whit this idea in mind, this new review paper may represent a valuable mean of gathering information on the species past occurrence, to investigate spatial and temporal correlates of stranding events and, potentially, to evaluate the effects that current threats have on the population. 

Nino Pierantonio and Giovanni Bearzi (2012). Review of fin whale mortality events in the Adriatic Sea (1728–2012), with a description of a previously unreported killing. Marine Biodiversity Records, 5, e109 doi:10.1017/S1755267212000930.

Abstract This paper contributes an updated and detailed review of fin whale mortality events in the Adriatic Sea, encompassing four centuries. A total of 17 events, all referring to single animals, were validated through a content review of historical and recent information. Mortality events in the area mostly involved dead animals (N = 12; 70.6%), with 2 whales live-stranded (11.8%) and 3 killed (17.6%). Most records (70.6%) are for the last century, likely due to improved reporting. We provide a detailed description of the previously unpublished killing of an adult male fin whale which occurred in 1960 in the central-western portion of the basin.
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