Alternate Title

Cetacean Strandings on the Southwestern Coast of the Gulf of Mexico


A total of 21 reports of cetacean strandings on the coast of Veracruz, Mexico were obtained from interviews and monitoring efforts carried out through surveys conducted by walking along the beach between July 1993 and June 1994, Skeletal remains and recently documented stranding events in scientific and private collections were also collected. Identified species belong to four families: Balaenopteridae, Physeteridae, Kogiidae, and Delphinidae. Nineteen animals were identified to species level. Additionally, a single baleen whale photo was identified only as a Balaenopteridae whale and a single vertebra was recorded as a Delphinidae vertebra because of lack of more conclusive evidence. Six categories were recorded (number of stranding events in parentheses): Physeter macrocephalus (2), Kogia breviceps (2), Tursiops truncatus (14), Stenella frontalis (1), Balaenoptera sp. (1), and unidentified Delphinidae (1). The spatial distribution of the carcasses and skeletal remains indicates that cetaceans strand along most of the coast of Veracruz. Two types of interaction between the bottlenose dolphin and the artisanal coastal fishery were identified through anecdotal information. The first interaction relates to competition for food, because dolphins eat fish caught in gill nets. A second interaction was the direct use of dolphin meat as shark bait. This is the first systematic study involving the collection of cetacean stranding data along the entire coastline of Veracruz.