CORSICA, the orca found dead off the coast of Lagos, Portugal at 2022.

The orca CORSICA belonged to the group in which the grandmother TOÑI is present. With an estimated age of 50 years, she is considered the oldest killer whale in the Iberian killer whale population.

It is estimated that CORSICA would now be between 20-22 years old, so she must have been born around the year 2000-2002, she is the second daughter of MUESCA.

CORSICA had three known offspring. At her first birth SONRISA was born in 2014, but she did not survive her first year of life. In 2017 she had GLADIS MATTEO, since when the puppy does not survive the four-year period between births is not maintained. The last puppy to be born was GLADIS ISA, born in 2021.

CORSICA was a regular in the waters of the Strait and belonged to the herds that feed from the interaction with tuna fishermen. She was observed traveling north in the fall of 2015, in Galicia, and in 2017 off the central Portuguese coast. She is known to travel with GLADIS BLANCA, albeit in years prior to 2020, the start of interactions.

CORSICA is not qualified as a GLADIS, i.e., she was not observed involved in the events of interactions, with any type of ship. Although her daughters, GLADIS MATTEO and ISA were observed following the stern of small boats, but not sailboats, nor did they break anything.

Official information on the death of the killer whale CORSICA

Rede de Arrojamentos do Algarve

On the 17th of March, the Stranding Network of the Algarve (RAAlg) was informed that the Lagos maritime police were travelling by sea to Praia de Burgau, a county of Lagos, where there were apparent sightings of a floating Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) at only a small distance of the coast. Confirming that it was indeed a killer whale, they determined that the animal would be towed to the harbor of Lagos, where it was hoisted out of the water and transported to the Barlavento Landfill in Porto de Lagos, Portimão. The Stranding network of the Algarve, who arrived at the scene, performed a preliminary external analysis of the animal and accompanied the mentioned procedures closely.

On the same day, by sharing photoidentification, the animal was identified as “Corsica” (018), an adult female of the Gibraltar group, a subpopulation of the Iberian Orca.

The necropsy was performed on the 19th of March in the Barlavento Landfill in Porto de Lagos, Portimão, only after all the conditions for an effective necropsy and proper sampling were met.

Necropsy Results:

External analysis: No exterior marks were found that would indicate a possible cause of death. The right pectoral fin was amputated as a result of an old and well healed wound, a well known and documented fact. The body was in a moderate state of decomposition, also detecting a prolapsed uterus caused by a post-mortem increase of internal pressure exerted by gases. The parasitic load was normal, considering a female adult with a good health condition.

Internal analysis: stomach content was abundant and not digested, results of recent feeding behavior, indicating a traumatic death. The lungs presented a reddish foam (pulmonary edema), indicating asphyxia due to immersion by an unknown cause.

It is important to mention that these are preliminary results and that more time and studies need to be performed. Various organs were sampled for complementary histopathological studies, which will occur soon.

This is the first ever stranding of this species recorded by the Stranding network of the Algarve.

In 2021 a dead juvenile male was located floating off Ceuta, but his body could not be recovered for examination.

In 2015, a young female was found stranded on the coast of Sines, Portugal. It was also a well-known specimen. SPVS.

In 2002, a group of orcas approached the port of Burela, Galicia, leaving behind a dying female. It was a specimen that died as a result of a gunshot wound to the face that left her acoustically deaf and unable to survive. CEMMA.

Orca stranded alive in Algeciras in 2006, an elderly adult female, 750 cm long and very thin.

Newborn orca stranded on the beach of Peñarronda, Gijón in 1988, a male of 211 cm. Pis-Millán. 1988. Dos varamientos poco frecuentes en la costa asturiana: Orcinus orca y Lagenorhynchus acutus. Bol. Cien. Nat. I. D. E. A. Nº; 39: 19 - 32.