Cetacean strandings on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, 1970-1998.

Zoe L. Lucas and Sascha K. Hooker. 2000.

Canadian Field-Naturalist 114: 45-61.


This review compiles information on cetacean strandings on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia. Two hundred and sixty-seven stranded cetaceans, in 102 events, were recorded between 1970 and 1998. Seventeen species were represented: Blue Whale (1 single stranding), Fin Whale (1 single stranding), Minke Whale (3 single strandings), Humpback Whale (4 single strandings), Sperm Whale (8 strandings, 13 animals), Pygmy Sperm Whale (3 strandings, 4 animals), Dwarf Sperm Whale (2 single strandings), Northern Bottlenose Whale (3 single strandings), Sowerby's Beaked Whale (1 single stranding), Killer Whale (1 single stranding), Long-finned Pilot Whale (37 strandings, 173+ animals), White-beaked Dolphin (1 stranding, 2 animals), Atlantic White-sided Dolphin (9 strandings, 13 animals), Risso's Dolphin (1 single stranding), Striped Dolphin (8 strandings, 22 animals), Short-beaked Common Dolphin (4 strandings, 6 animals), Harbour Porpoise (11 strandings, 13 animals). The records of the Dwarf Sperm Whale and that of the Risso’s Dolphin are the first for eastern Canada. The record of the Sowerby’s Beaked Whale is the first reported stranding in Nova Scotia. Humpback, Minke, and Killer Whales, and Short-beaked Common Dolphins have not previously been recorded stranded on Sable Island. The majority of stranding events (84) were of a single animal; nine involved two animals; eight involved 3-10 animals; and one event involved over 130 animals. Recorded strandings increased from 1.9 strandings/year between 1970-1989 to 7.1 strandings/year between 1990-1998. Mass strandings of multiple male Sperm Whales have occurred three times (all since 1990). All Atlantic White-sided Dolphin strandings investigated were also comprised of male animals.

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