In France, about fifty cetacean strandings are recorded in the Mediterranean every year. A National Stranding Network (NSN) was established in 1972 to study the causes of the death and thus monitor the health of marine mammals. The network covers the entirety of the French coastline. It is coordinated nationally by the Pelagis Observatory (former CRMM [Centre for Marine Mammal Research], based in La Rochelle). The National stranding database is avalaible on the Observatory website, which gives histograms and maps about French stranding. The CRMM appointed GECEM (Mediterranean Cetacean Study Group) to coordinate the activities of the Stranding Network for the whole of the French Mediterranean in 2000. The network is made up of local correspondents (mainly veterinarians, but also volunteers and government employees). The new circular issued by the Ministry concerning the reporting of strandings of marine mammals is available since 27 April 2017 at the following link: http://circulaires.legifrance.gouv.fr/pdf/2017/05/cir_42149.pd (four technical sheets on the code of conduct to have in case of cetacean stranding are already available. You can consult them on the Pelagis Observatory website mentioned above).

The Port-Cros National Park, in its role as coordinator of the French branch of the Pelagos Sanctuary, participates in the Stranding Network with its trained staff as well as by making equipment available (full range of dissection tools, signaling and information equipment, two trailers for collecting the carcasses of stranded animals, a freezer to store samples) and making its offices and facilities available for training programs of the GECEM’s ‘National Stranding Network Correspondents’.

The network also operates in specific research programs, collecting biological materials to use in conjunction with routine observations. This was the case, for example, with studies into feeding habits, population age structures and pollutant concentration in cetacean predators, which are at the end of the food chain, as well as sanitary assessments of diseases that could potentially be transmitted to humans and a study of the consequences of epidemics impacting dolphin populations.

A collaboration between France and the Principality of Monaco was initiated in order to let the Principality benefit from the NSN.

For more information about the Stranding Network in the French Mediterranean, click here.

 

In Italy, the National Stranding Network was strengthened after the morbillivirus outbreak in the Mediterranean in 2013, which caused a many cetacean strandings along the Italian coast, and now incorporates the following groups:

 * Coordination Centers for the data acquisition on strandings of marine mammals: Banca Dati Spiaggiamenti (Strandings
 Database)