New records of Cuvier's beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) from the Turkish Levantine Sea


Abstract: Cuvier's beaked whales were sighted once on each of three different surveys over Antalya Canyon, in June and September 2015. Sightings took place in waters between 600 and 1000 m in depth and at 8 km from the closest shore. While the first sighting was positively identified as Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris (G. Cuvier, 1823)), latter sightings could not be identified to the species level. Nevertheless, noting that latter sightings had a similar spatial and temporal distribution to the first one and that there is an overwhelming difference between the probabilities of sighting Cuvier's beaked whales versus Mesoplodon sp. İn the Mediterranean Sea, all three sightings were assumed to be Cuvier's beaked whales. Group size was recorded as two for the first two sightings and one for the last sighting. We hereby report the most recent Cuvier's beaked whale sightings from the Levantine Basin and the first ones from Antalya Bay, as well as compile the previous sighting and stranding information on beaked whales in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The current study supports previous modeling results showing the northern region of the Levantine Sea to be of importance to the species distribution in the Mediterranean Sea and we propose that the species is indeed regularly present in the area. However, consistent regional surveys are needed in order to validate these conclusions.

Keywords: Cuvier's beaked whales, sightings, Levantine Basin

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