First record of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
- 49 Downloads
The false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) is primarily distributed across tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters, with few records originating above 50° latitude in each hemisphere. In February 2013, a mass stranding of 22 false killer whales occurred on the east coast of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas; 51.83°S, 58.24°W). Of the 20 sexed animals, 11 were male and 9 were female. Total body lengths ranged from 396 to 581 cm, and the stranded animals likely consisted entirely of mature adults. There were no significant differences between the sexes in proportional body measurements, with the exception of proportional dorsal fin height which was significantly higher in males. Tooth counts ranged from 14 to 18 in the upper jaws, and from 14 to 20 in the lower jaws. Four stomachs were investigated, of which three were empty and one contained a single Onychoteuthidae squid (Onykia ingens) beak. Mitochondrial control region sequences from the stranded animals indicated greater genetic connectivity between the south Pacific and south Atlantic than between the south and north Atlantic ocean basins. Given the absence of full necropsies, the underlying reasons for the stranding could not be ascertained. This mass stranding represents the first confirmed record of false killer whales in the Falkland Islands, and provides new information on the species in the southernmost part of its distributional range.
KeywordsFalkland Islands Genetic connectivity Malvinas Mass stranding Morphology Pseudorca crassidens South Atlantic
We are grateful to Jason Whitney and Sue Morrison for reporting this stranding event, and to Alan Eagle for allowing access to Pleasant Roads beach on Fitzroy Farm. The sampling team included Maggie Battersby, Alicky Davey, Jonathan Handley, Farrah Peck, Micky Reeves, Nick Rendell and David Spivack. Nick Rendell of the Falkland Islands Government Environmental Planning Department assisted with organising export permits. Samples were exported under FIG Research Licence No: R09/2013, and imported into the USA under CITES permit 13US774223/9 and NMFS permit 14097.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Baird RW (2018) Pseudorca crassidens. The IUCN red list of threatened species 2018: e.T18596A50371251. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T18596A50371251.en. Accessed 15 Feb 2019
- Higgins DP, Noad MJ (2006) Standardised protocols for the collection of biological samples from stranded cetaceans. Uniquest Pty Ltd. The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage. https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3d46ce5c-06df-4c20-a78b-2e7c1369aac1/files/cetacean-protocols.pdf. Accessed 9 Mar 2019
- Martien KK, Chivers SJ, Baird RW, Archer FI, Gorgone AM, Hancock-Hanser BL, Mattila D, McSweeney DJ, Oleson EM, Palmer CL, Pease VL, Robertson KM, Schorr GS, Schultz M, Webster DL, Taylor BL (2014) Nuclear and mitochondrial patterns of population structure in North Pacific false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens). J Hered 105:611–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Odell DK, McClune KM (1999) False killer whale Pseudorca crassidens (Owen 1846). In: Ridgway SH, Harrison R (eds) Handbook of marine mammals, vol 6, The second book of dolphins and the porpoises. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 213–243Google Scholar
- Oporto JA, Lescrauwaet AC, Maslow N, Matus R, Canto J, Turina O (1994) Primeros antecedentes ambientales de un varamiento masivo de falsa orca (Pseudorca crassidens), ocurrido en el estrecho de Magallanes, Chile. In: Oporto JA (ed) Anales de la IV Reunión de Trabajo de Especialistas en Mamíferos Acuáticos de América del Sur. Centro de Investigación y Manejo de Mamíferos Marinos, Valdivia, pp 277–285Google Scholar
- Pinedo MC, Polacheck T, Barreto AS, Lammardo MP (2002) A note on vessel of opportunity sighting surveys for cetaceans in the shelf edge region off the southern coast of Brazil. J Cetacean Res Manage 4:323–329Google Scholar
- Reid JB, Evans PGH, Northridge SP (2003) Atlas of cetacean distribution in north-west European waters. https://jncc.defra.gov.uk/PDF/CetaceansAtlas_web.pdf Accessed 9 Mar 2019
- White RW, Gillon KW, Black AD, Reid JB (2002) The distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in Falkland Islands waters. https://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/pubs02_Falklands.pdf Accessed 9 Mar 2019
- Zaeschmar JR (2014) False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in New Zealand waters. Masters Dissertation, Massey University, New ZealandGoogle Scholar