UPDATE: Upon studying the images now available, it appears that the whale was not a Cuvier’s beaked whale, as reported in the local press and subsequently by EWN yesterday, but a Mediterranean pilot whale Globicephala melaena.
This is an offshore species which is among the largest members of the dolphin family, and is notorious for becoming stranded on beaches, with numerous theories proposed to account for this behaviour.
It has emerged that staff from the Centre for Recuperation of Endangered Marine Species (CREMA) decided to euthanise the animal after arriving at the scene and finding it infested with parasites and in a poor general condition.
AN unfortunate whale met an untimely end on a Benalmadena beach this morning, despite the best efforts of surfers and other beachgoers to rescue it.
The animal, which measured more than three metres in length, was stranded close to the Hotel Triton, but even a dozen people were unable to successfully steer it into deeper water.
Beach security and the town council were alerted, and members of the Guardia Civil’s nature protection service SEPRONA were dispatched, but ultimately they were unable to save the stricken beast, which was removed after it died.
It appears to be a young example of Cuvier’s beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris, also known as the goose-beaked whale on account of its beak-like mouthparts.
This species can grow to 5-7 metres in length and normally prefers deeper water, regularly diving to depths in excess of 2,000 metres.
It is thought that certain frequencies used in submarine sonar can cause them to panic and surface too quickly, resulting in a condition similar to ‘the bends’, while noise from ships may disrupt their ability to hunt and communicate.
The latest incident follows the beachings of two whales on the same beach in December 2015, as the Mediterranean region continues to feel the effects of industrialization, over-fishing and climate change.