Cyprus probes washed up dead whales, earthquake link possible

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NICOSIA  (Reuters) – A number of whales have washed up dead on the northern shores of Cyprus, authorities said, possibly affected by the massive earthquakes in neighbouring Turkey and Syria this week.

Six beaked whales were found dead on Friday, while a pod of four were found beached on Thursday, the Cyprus department of fisheries and marine research said.

Three of the four from Thursday were guided back to sea, while the fourth died, it said in a statement. It was unclear if the dead pod found on Friday included those whales from Thursday that had been returned to the sea, it said.

“These animals have an echolocation system which is affected by sea noise; it could be military exercises, seismic drills or naturally the earthquake in the region,” Yiannis Ioannou of the fisheries and marine research department told Sigma TV.

Authorities identified the whale as ziphius cavirostris, or more commonly known as Cuvier’s beaked whale. It is not very common offshore Cyprus.

The whales were found in what is a relatively small part of Cyprus’s northern coastline under the control of the island’s internationally recognised government. The longer part of the coastline is controlled by a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.

Monday’s mega earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which have killed tens of thousands of people, were also felt on the east Mediterranean island.

A whale is seen washed up dead on the northern shores of Cyprus near Argaka village, Cyprus. Photo: Cyprus Department of Fisheries and Marine Research

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