• Physeter macrocephalus;
  • sperm whale;
  • strandings;
  • mass strandings;
  • Southern Hemisphere;
  • Australia;
  • Southern Ocean


One hundred and fifteen sperm whales (97 female, 15 male, 3 unknown sex) were involved in three mass stranding events during the month of February 1998 along the west and northwest coastlines of Tasmania, Australia. Sixty-six of these whales stranded at Ocean Beach, Strahan; 35 at Greens Beach, Marrawah; and 11 at Black River Beach, Stanley. The remaining whales stranded singly along the coastline. Three mass strandings of this species in such close temporal proximity have not been reported in this area before, and this is the first time that data have been comprehensively collected from complete or near-complete groups of sperm whales from Tasmanian waters. Adult females dominated the three stranding groups. Total lengths ranged from 417 to 1,200 cm and ages ranged from 0.75 to 64 yr. Four females were lactating and four fetuses were found amongst the groups. Stomach contents were dominated by pelagic cephalopods.