February 8, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Corfu: how three whales were saved

The process of rescuing three beaked whales stranded on the coast of Corfu has been successfully completed, the Ministry of Environment said.

A whale (Ziphius cavirostris) that was rescued today was washed ashore at 9 am on Monday in shallow water, in a rocky part of the coast of Agios Gordios, on the southwestern side of the island of Corfu, writes the publication ethnos.gr.

It is a Zyphius whale, more than 5 meters long, and according to volunteer divers from the Hellenic Rescue Team (EMED) of Corfu who rushed to the site, the marine mammal had good buoyancy and did not suffer any external injuries. Thanks to the concerted efforts under the scientific guidance of Anastasia Komninos, professor of veterinary medicine at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, rescue volunteers and local residents who rushed to the scene, the marine mammal was immediately released. By 13:30 the whale returned to deep waters and was no longer visible from the shore. The Port Authority of Corfu and volunteer boat owners continue intensive patrols in the area.

Today’s incident comes after the successful rescue of two whales (Ziphius cavirostris) that washed up in shallow water off the western coast of the island on Sunday morning, February 20th.

Cuvier whales or beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris), the only representative of the genus Ziphius, which is the most common. This species holds the record among mammals for the deepest dive (2992 m) below the ocean surface and the longest dive (222 minutes). It is one of the most commonly seen beached whales despite the species’ preference for deep pelagic waters, typically deeper than 1000m.

The name comes from the Greek xiphos (“sword”) and the Latin cavus (“hollow”) and rostrum (“beak”), referring to the shape of the head.

The first whale washed up on the coast of Arillas, northwest of Corfu, and was soon pushed into the depths with the help of rescue volunteers and local residents, who found the marine mammal in shallow water. Rescue efforts have been focused on the second whale, which has “run aground” in the rocky part of the coast of Agios Gordios on the southwestern side of the island.

During the mobilization of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, a specialized team rushed to the scene – veterinarians from the Greek Center for Rescue and Care of Marine Mammals “Arion”, who examined the animal and took blood samples for analysis.

After many hours of effort, veterinarians, led by Anastasia Komninos, professor of veterinary medicine at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, with the help of local divers and volunteers, managed to free the second whale, which reluctantly returned to the depths.

The Corfu Coast Guard has been called to high vigilance and intensive patrols in the area for emergency (early) detection of stranded mammals. And the Ministry of Environment and Energy is in contact with Anastasia Miliou, Research Director of the Archipelagos Marine Conservation Institute, to provide highly specialized advice.

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