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Natural disease problems of the sperm whale
Lambertsen, R.H. (1997). Natural disease problems of the sperm whale, in: Jacques, G. et al. (Ed.) Potvissterfte in de Noordzee: wetenschap en beheer = Sperm whale deaths in the North Sea: science and management. Bulletin van het Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen. Biologie = Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. Biologie, 67(Suppl.): pp. 105-112
In: Jacques, G.; Lambertsen, R.H. (Ed.) (1997). Potvissterfte in de Noordzee: wetenschap en beheer = Sperm whale deaths in the North Sea: science and management. Bulletin van het Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen. Biologie = Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. Biologie, 67(Suppl.). Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen: Brussel. 133 + synthese (dutch) pp., more
In: Bulletin van het Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen. Biologie = Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. Biologie. Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen: Bruxelles. ISSN 0374-6429, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Lambertsen, R.H. (1997). Natural disease problems of the sperm whale. Bull. Kon. Belg. Inst. Natuurwet. Biologie 67(suppl.): 105-112, more

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Keywords
    Diseases; Lipids; Marine pollution; Pollution; Starvation; Stranding; Toxicants; Marine

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  • Lambertsen, R.H.

Abstract
    This paper reviews observations made over the years on natural disease in sperm whales. Most of the information available is derived from past whaling activities. This information, with biological data defining normal body condition and blubber lipid content, provides a starting point for the evaluation of natural phenomena as causes of sperm whale strandings. For example, depression of blubber lipid content was found by others in many of the sperm whales which stranded in 1994/1995 in the North Sea, and is consistent with Smeenk's hypothesis (this volume) of a general process of starvation in a shallow sea essentially devoid of those pelagic cephalopods which constitute the sperm whale's principal prey. Cross-disciplinary data derived from whales stranded on the North Sea coast in 1994/1995 are also considered with the concern that pollution may have contributed to, or caused these strandings. However, the pathological details, plus the fact that the one Belgian whale with hemorrhagic skin ulcers had severe weight loss, the lowest blubber lipid content measured, and carried the lowest concentration of lipid-soluble toxicants, all suggest that any specific cause of death linked to the pathogenesis of the skin ulcers was not related to pollution. Further research into this question is strongly encouraged.

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