Stejneger's beaked whale strandings in Alaska, 1995–2020

Katharine N. Savage, Kathy Burek-Huntington, Sadie K. Wright, Anna L. Bryan, Gay Sheffield, Marc Webber, Raphaela Stimmelmayr, Pam Tuomi, Martha A. Delaney, William Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Presented here is the first comprehensive and updated compilation of history, distribution, and findings of Stejneger's beaked whales (Mesoplodon stejnegeri) in Alaska. Stejneger's beaked whales are a poorly understood, elusive, deep-diving cetacean species found in the North Pacific Ocean. Since Stejneger's beaked whale strandings data in Alaska through 1994 were last published, 35 additional strandings have been documented. Twenty-seven animals stranded in the Aleutian Islands, seven stranded in Southcentral Alaska, and one animal stranded on St. Lawrence Island. Twenty-two carcasses were necropsied, but only four were fresh. Seventeen of the 22 died during mass stranding events and cause of death could not be definitively determined. Barotrauma was suspected in three cases and infectious disease possibly complicated by barotrauma occurred in two cases. We documented an expansion of strandings into the northern Bering Sea, characterized a sex bias, examined stomach contents that included macroplastic, and identified parasites not previously associated with Stejneger's beaked whales. Also included are data on the largest known mass stranding of Stejneger's beaked whales, which occurred on Adak Island in 2018. The history, distribution, and findings presented here are central to further our understanding of this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-869
Number of pages27
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Alaska beaked whale strandings
  • Mesoplodon stejnegeri
  • Stejneger's beaked whale
  • beaked whale distribution
  • beaked whale pathology
  • macroplastic ingestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Stejneger's beaked whale strandings in Alaska, 1995–2020'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this