, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 182-187

Biological aspects of Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) recorded in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea

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Abstract

The paper describes two stranded ziphiids from Croatia: a subadult female (length 430 cm, body mass 610 kg) that was stranded in 2001 and an adult male (length 510 cm, body mass ∼1,000 kg) that was stranded in 2002. Both were confirmed to be Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier, 1823) from analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences and osteological features. There are no previous records of Cuvier’s beaked whales from the Croatian part of the Adriatic. The external shape of the head of the female specimen appears to be significantly different from the heads of Cuvier’s beaked whales from other seas. The Croatian specimen exhibited embedded pieces of gravel in the gum tissue around the tip of the lower and upper jaws, which was observed for the first time in a Cuvier’s beaked whale. The presence of the female in shallow coastal waters for several weeks and her boat-positive behaviour are apparently also first records of this kind for the species. The female was found to have ingested several plastic bags which likely caused her death. These are the northernmost findings of this species in the Adriatic Sea.