27 December 2002
Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, is spotted just before midday stranded on some rocks in Portland Harbour, Dorset. The coastguards were called and they managed to push the whale back into the water and it spent the rest of the day swimming around the large natural harbour, but it has yet to be coaxed back out to the open sea.  This species of whale is rarely seen in the shallower parts of the English Channel

12 December 2002
Early in the morning a young 8 metre long Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, entered the naval harbour of Frederikshavn on the northern Kattegat coast of Denmark. It remained in the harbour for the whole of the day and is believed to be feeding on the shoals of small fish seen. This large whale is regularly seen around the Shetland Isles but rarely ventures further south.

Report by Carl Kinze (Zoologisk Museum, København)
via Graeme Cresswell via UK Cetnet

10 September 2002
About six miles out of Whitby, Yorkshire, we had two sightings of Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, which I believe were two separate individuals. However on the way back, again NNE from port and six miles out between about 17.00 and 17.30, we saw at least five Minke Whales with four in view at one time. We also saw at least twenty small pods of Harbour Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, with two to five individuals a pod.

Report by John Rochester via UK Cetnet

28 August 2002
La Société Guernesiaise Cetacean Section Report
As many as 20 Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, are reported by Channel Television's Nicky Bougourd and team off Fermain, on Guernsey's south-east coast.  The animals which included juveniles were observed between 9:30 am and 10:30 am following a tip-off from Deputy Harbour Master Tony Pattimore who had spotted them on the Search and Rescue CCTV.  The result was some stunning film of these magnificent creatures, which are believed to be possibly on migration as they are normally seen in July, August or September.  However sightings are confined to 2-3 per annum and this one was exceptional due to the number of animals observed.  Nicky Bougourd saw 12 animals, around 6 metres in length.  Some of them were smaller juveniles. The pilot whales rested motionless at times, and then dived down for periods. They were not feeding according to the crew.  Their usual diet is cephalopods, including squids.
Reporters:  Nicky Bougourd CTV, Ellen Wood, Tony Rive and Tony Pattimore.
Original report and excellent footage shown on "Channel Television" BBC Southwest.

Report by Nicolas Jouault on the 
Marine Mammals of the English Channel Smart Group

Extended Report
La Société Guernesiaise Sightings Web Pages
BMLSS Cetacea



22 August 2002
Up to five Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, are seen between Mallaig and the Isle of Eigg (west Scotland) and one adult whale was breaching one mile off the Isle or Rum. This Minke was reported twisting during at least one of the twenty breaches, leaving the water completely at times. A breaching Minke Whale was seen in subsequent days north west of the Garvellachs near Oban.

Report by John Poyner via UK Cetnet

BMLSS Cetaceans


20 June 2002
Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was stranded alive on the south end of the beach at Ostend, Happisburgh, Norfolk, UK. A rescue attempt was made yesterday evening by the Norfolk coastguard and RSPCA, but sadly the whale beached and died overnight.

Report by Graeme Cresswell

BMLSS Cetacea

15 June 2002
An extremely unusual record of a live stranding of a female Atlantic White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus, on the sandy beach outside of Newhaven harbour, East Sussex occurred in the early evening. The tail muscle was in such poor condition that the Natural History Museum experts on site decided on euthanasia. They were also able to confirm the identity of this deep water northern species that is a rare discovery in the English Channel.

Report by Greg Brinkley via UK Cetnet

Bionomics of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin in the NE Atlantic (Link)
Link for CD-ROM only


3 June 2002
The Dutch water-police spotted a Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon of about 15 metres in the Westerschelde. The animal was swimming the wrong way and surfaced in the "Buitenhaven" and later the "Sloehaven" of Vlissingen.
Thanks to a combined rescue operation of the EHBZ-team Zeeland and the EHBZ-team Belgium the animal was guided trough the fairway to deeper waters. About midnight the Sperm Whale was spotted close to Zeebrugge (Belgium).
Source and Map (Zeehondencreche [Netherlands Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre] Pieterburen)

Report by Dr. Reindert Nijland (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

Further Notes


23 - 24 March 2002
A pod of between 30 and 40 Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, became stranded, or nearly stranded, at near Camp in North in Tralee Bay, County Kerry, Ireland, and were prevented from beaching and helped back out to sea. 18 of these whales (actually dolphins with a bottle-shaped head) perished, but many were coaxed back into the sea on the first day. On the following day, 10 to 12 whales were spotted the shallow water of Fenit Harbour, but they did not become beached and the Fenit lifeboatmen were able to escort them back into deeper water. 

Information from Paul Peachey (Independent Newspaper)

One of the female whales gave birth as the lifeboatmen preventing it from beaching. 

Additional information from Derek Day

In the authentic report, the calf was bodily lifted by a farmer and put back into the sea.

Information completed by Dave Wall (Irish Whale & Dolphin Group) via UK Cetnet

Full Reports
BMLSS Cetaceans


c. 18 March 2002
A badly composed whale is washed up on Saligo Bay (NR 209 672) on the west coast of Islay, Argyll, the outermost island of the Inner Hebrides. The whale has been identified (needs to be confirmed) as Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, which is a deep water whale rarely seen alive and rarely washed up on the most westernmost shores of Britain and Ireland

Report by Malcolm Ogilvie via UK Wildlife

BMLSS Cetaceans
News: Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Co. Sligo, Ireland 2000)



18 February 2002
A massive stranding of between 120 and 150 Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, occurred on the beach at Pleubian on the Côtes d'Armor, Bretagne (Britanny), on the English Channel (le Manche) coast of northern France.  This stranding occurred at 3:00 pm just before the low spring tide.


According to people who witnessed the event this sandy shore, the first dolphin beached itself followed by its congeners. This prompted an attempted rescue by the Fire Brigade, the Police and the public who were able to come to the aid of about 20 of the unfortunate dolphins and actually lift them up and put them back into the water.  Unfortunately despite strenuous efforts 48 dolphins perished, but about 90 survived.
The reason for the stranding is not known but the topography of the bay and the large tidal range were probably contributory.

Report by Gérard Mauger (Groupe d'Etude des Cétacés du Cotentin)
Original notification by Liz Sandeman (Marine Connection)

Stranded Dolphin Identification Notes
Report Numbers for Stranded Cetaceans
Mass Stranding Exercises in Scotland
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
Zoonosis (Marine Mammals)


5 February 2002
Cetacean Deaths
Large numbers of dolphins are washed up dead on the French coast with reports of about 300 deaths. The French newspapers showed the dolphin carcasses piled up high on the beach. 

Report by Andrew Syvret (Pinnacle Marine Limited)


The total reports of stranded cetaceans for Cornwall reached 45 this year.
(In previous years the numbers have been recorded at 26.)

Reports from Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List

January 2002
At least 50 small cetaceans, mostly dolphins, have been washed dead up on English Channel coasts during this month. Dolphins are washed up dead every year, but there seems to be at least double the normal numbers this year. Although, the cause of death is not known for sure, most people seem to think that fishing activities are to blame. The cause of the increase is less clear; it could be because of the bad weather has washed more ashore, it could be because more are being caught because of increased dolphin numbers, or increased fishing effort, or it could be because more people are reporting their grisly discoveries.
More information can be found on the following efora:
Marine Mammals of the English Channel Smart Group
UK Cetnet
Cornish Wildlife Mailing List
Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group

BBC News Report
Report Numbers for Stranded Cetaceans
BMLSS Cetacean Page
Sea Watch Foundation
Cornish Marine Wildlife Reports 2001 (by Ray Dennis)
European Cetacean Bycatch





3 January 2002
A 2.88 metres long female Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, was washed up dead on Thurleston Beach in Devon. This is an extremely unusual stranding of a deep sea whale. Scientists from the Natural History Museum in London have taken DNA samples in an attempt to discover from which population this whale came from. The cause of death was unknown. This species is much commoner in the southern hemisphere. The presence of a population west of the Bay of Biscay is possible. This whale is classified as a Vagrant in the British Cetacean List.

Report by Martin Gavet (La Société Guernesiaise)