Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993–2015)

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Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993–2015)

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Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993–2015)

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            Data source: Chinese Science Citation Database(CSCD)

Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993–2015)

Zhang Peijun1, Li Songhai1*, Lin Mingli1, Xing Luru1, Chen Xiaoming1, Jiang Xiaohong1

1. Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, Hainan 572000, P. R. China

* Email: lish@idsse.ac.cn

Abstract: China holds high biodiversity of cetacean species. Every year, a great number of cetacean stranding events are reported at different coastal cities in China. However, no database has been set up yet to gather and analyze the large amount of valuable cetacean stranding information. The Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (DCSRHI) has recorded cetacean stranding events in Hainan Island and coastal areas nearby between 1993 and 2015, with information including stranding time and site, animal species, gender, body length and weight, stranding reasons, and data sources. The DCSRHI will provide data for research on fauna, spatial and temporal distribution, biology, ecology and human activities impact assessment concerning cetaceans. It can also provide services for marine mammal scientists, environmentalists and governmental agencies, and lay the groundwork for the future establishment of a nationwide cetacean stranding database.

Keywords: Hainan Island; marine mammal; stranding record; conservation; cetacean

Database Profile

Chinese title

海南岛鲸类搁浅记录数据库(1993~2015年)

English title

Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993 – 2015)

Corresponding author

Li Songhai (Email: lish@idsse.ac.cn)

Data author(s)

Zhang Peijun, Li Songhai, Lin Mingli, Xing Luru, Chen Xiaoming, Jiang Xiaohong

Time range

1993 – 2015

Spatial scope

Coastal cities of Hainan Island and surrounding waters

Data format

*.xls

Data volume

143 KB

Data service system

http://www.sciencedb.cn/dataSet/handle/37

Source(s) of funding

“Professional Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island” (XXH12504-3-20), the Science and Technology Data Resources Integration and Sharing Professional Database Program, supported by the Special Fund for Informatization of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Database composition

The database is composed of three parts: cetacean stranding records, cetacean classification, and cetacean species in China, with three data files, namely, cetacean standing data.zip of 32 KB, cetacean classification.zip of 51 KB, and cetacean species in China.zip of 41 KB.

1. Introduction

Cetaceans are the most advanced marine animals, with well-developed biosonar. They are of high research value in biology, environmental monitoring and bionics. However, their habitat in the vast ocean makes it difficult for researchers to approach and study them. That is why indirect means and basic information accumulation are so important for purposive and systematic study on cetaceans.

China is one of the countries with high biodiversity of cetacean species. Every year, a great number of cetacean stranding events are reported at different coastal cities in China. However, no database has been set up yet to gather and analyze the large amount of valuable cetacean stranding information.

The South China Sea boasts the richest biodiversity of marine mammal species among China’s several large sea areas. Taking cetaceans for example, stranding and whaling records show that there are 37 cetacean species in China, including 9 Mysticeti species and 28 Odontoceti species, among which, more than 30 species can be found in the South China Sea. Hainan Island, situated in the South China Sea, sees relatively frequent cetacean stranding cases. For example, a mass stranding of 12 tropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) was found along the coast of Wenchang city in April 2014.

The cetacean stranding database focuses on Hainan Island and coastal areas nearby. It will provide data for research on fauna, spatial and temporal distribution, biology, ecology and human activities impact assessment concerning cetaceans. It can also provide services for marine mammal scientists, environmentalists and governmental agencies, and lay the groundwork for the future establishment of a nationwide cetacean stranding database.

2. Data collection and processing

2.1 Data collection principles and approaches

Cetacean stranding is a random and uncontrollable event, which is affected to a considerable extent by factors such as extreme weathers, sea states and ocean currents. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the research community to predict cetacean stranding with current knowledge. This database has included every stranding case that can be found. To acquire comprehensive and detailed information, we carried out popular science education about rescue of stranded cetaceans in fishery administration departments and monitoring stations in Hainan Island every year, such as dispensing pamphlets and training rescue workers, while we also introduced the database and its website, to encourage social participation in enriching it.

All the data have been input by certain professionals to ensure data authenticity and consistency.

Historical data were collected from professional literature, monographs and media reports, with data sources and references attached, to ensure their accuracy and verifiability. Uncertain items are left blank.

This processing method also works for real-time data obtained from online media. If we handle one stranding case and get first-hand information, all content required by the database will be accurately provided, with other case handling agencies mentioned.

In addition, the database is open to registered users for submitting cetacean stranding information to http://www.cetacean.csdb.cn, which will be released after confirmation of database administrators.

2.2 Data collection content

The content and precision of data collection are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Content and precision of data collection

Contents

Precision

Contents

Precision

Time

(specific to date)

Recorder

 

Finder

 

Telephone

 

Species

(identified by professionals, accurate to species)

Latin name

(filled by professionals)

Dorsal fin

Yes/No

Beak

Yes/No

Body length

cm

Weight

kg

Gender

Female/Male

Age

(estimated by professionals based on the body length)

Quantity

 

Human activity

(Is the stranding involved with human activities? Yes/No)

Stranding city

(specific to county-level city)

Stranding site

(specific to town or village)

Stranding reasons

(speculated by professionals)

Geomorphic description

(of the stranding site)

Location

(latitude/longitude coordinates on Baidu Maps or GPS coordinates)

Behavior

(surrounding terrain, animal behaviors, and approachability degree, coming in three drop-down menus)

3. Sample description

The database is divided into three parts, that is, cetacean classification, cetacean species in China, and cetacean stranding records, which are stored in Science Data Bank (http://www.sciencedb.cn/dataSet/handle/37) and the database’s official website (http://www.cetacean.csdb.cn).

The cetacean classification and cetacean species in China briefly describe all the cetacean species in taxonomic ranks of order, family and species. Taking “cetacean species in China” for example, all species are listed in taxonomic ranks (Table 2), and then individually introduced (Table 3). For more figures, please visit http://www.cetacean.csdb.cn/cetacea.html.

Table 2 Taxonomic ranks of cetacean species in China

  Order

Family

Species

 Mysticeti

Balaenidae

North Pacific right whale ( Eubalaena japonica )

Eschrichtiidae

Gray whale ( Eschrichtius robustus )

Balaenopteridae

Common minke whale ( Balaenoptera acutorostrata )

Sei whale ( Balaenoptera borealis )

Bryde's whale ( Balaenoptera brydei )

Pygmy Bryde's whale ( Balaenoptera edeni )

Blue whale ( Balaenoptera musculus )

Omura’s whale ( Balaenoptera omurai )

Fin whale ( Balaenoptera physalus )

Humpback whale ( Megaptera novaeangliae )

 Odontoceti

Physeteridae

Sperm whale ( Physeter macrocephalus )

Kogiidae

Pygmy sperm whale ( Kogia breviceps )

Dwarf sperm whale ( Kogia sima )

Lipotidae

Baiji ( Lipotes vexillifer )

Phocoenidae

Indo-Pacific finless porpoise ( Neophocaena phocaenoides )

Narrow-ridged finless porpoise ( Neophocaena asiaeorientalis )

Delphinidae

Rough-toothed dolphin ( Steno bredanensis )

Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin ( Sousa chinensis )

Pacific white-sided dolphin ( Lagenorhynchus obliquidens )

Risso’s dolphin ( Grampus griseus )

Common bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus )

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops aduncus )

Pantropical spotted dolphin ( Stenella attenuata )

Spinner dolphin ( Stenella longirostris )

Striped dolphin ( Stenella coeruleoalba )

Short-beaked common dolphin ( Delphinus delphis )

Long-beaked common dolphin ( Delphinus capensis )

Fraser's dolphin ( Lagenodelphis hosei )

Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)

Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuate )

False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens )

Killer whale ( Orcinus orca )

Short-finned pilot whale ( Globicephala macrorhynchus )

Ziphiidae

Baird’s beaked whale ( Berardius bairdii )

Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus )

Blainville’s beaked whale ( Mesoplodon densirostris )

Ginkgo-toothed beaked whale ( Mesoplodon ginkgodens )

Cuvier’s beaked whale ( Ziphius cavirostris )

Table 3 Example of individual introduction of cetacean species in China

Items

Example

Chinese name

抹香鲸

English name

Sperm whale

Latin Name

Physeter macrocephalus

Photo

 Figure 1

Body size

Adult: 15 to 18.3 meters; new-born: 3.5 to 4.5 meters

Group size

20 to 30 individuals, 50 at most

Dorsal fin

A rounded and triangular hump (Figure 2)

Morphological and behavioral features

It has a large, block-shaped head. It prefers tranquility and often leisurely roams in the sea. It always lifts its flukes out of water as it begins a dive.

Diet

Octopuses, squid, and demersal fish

Figure source(s)

A Survey on Southeast Asia Wild Marine Mammal, by Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore

Figure 1 Sperm whale

Figure 2 Dorsal fin of a sperm whale

Each stranding record (Table 4) is composed of species, scientific name, stranding time and site, quantity, and “detailed information” which leads to another page as shown in Table 1.

Table 4 Example of a stranding record

Record items

Contents

Species

Spinner dolphin

Scientific name

Stenella longirostris

Stranding time

March 3, 2015

Stranding site

Qingshui Bay in Lingshui City

Quantity

1

Detailed information

Table 1

4. Quality control and assessment

4.1 Basic knowledge quality control

Establishing a database of cetacean stranding records is both an academic and social issue that relies on the participation of environmentalists from all sectors of society. Therefore, the database allows registered users to upload stranding data.

However, cetacean research is relatively an unpopular science, thus few people have the expertise. That is why the database website has provided basic cetacean knowledge and our cetacean research progress and achievements, to teach more people what cetaceans are and how to distinguish them from other fish (especially large sharks, such as the whale shark). The website will ensure that people from all works of life who are willing to contribute to cetacean protection have access to relevant information, including conservation and classification, and that they can provide and upload accurate stranding data.

4.2 Stranding data quality control

All registered users are allowed to submit stranding data to this database by selecting options offered by the website, for accuracy and consistency. These data will be reviewed by website administrators before going online. Certain professionals have been assigned to input and post data.

There are two kinds of data sources in the database, that is, stranding events we directly process and events heard from other ways.

In the first case, we can provide specific information according to the SC/T 9409-2012 Recording Requirements for Studbook Keeping of Captive Aquatic Mammals[1]. In addition, we keep autopsy reports of stranded animals, which, however, are our scientific achievements and not disclosed to the public before officially published.

In the second case, information acquired always may not be quite specific or accurate. The database only posts verified data and adds notes to uncertain ones. At the same time, we retain data sources (such as references and media report links) which are not publicly available temporally.

It is worth mentioning that the core data of this database are generally discrete data (Table 1), because we set drop-down menus for data uploaders wherever description may vary with each individual, to guarantee data’s accuracy and consistency.

This database mainly focuses on some stranding information, such as species, stranding site and seasons, which are worth recording. Many other stranding data which have little effect on the quality of this database are not so important that their error and precision are not valued in this study.

5. Data value

The database is divided into three parts, that is, cetacean classification, cetacean species  in China, and cetacean stranding records. The first two are aimed for researchers and protectors to search for basic information about cetaceans and to study, while the third one provides stranding events around Hainan Island.

Cetacean classification is roughly the same all over the world, but still varies in different countries and areas. In general, data from IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature, http://www.iucn.org), Category of Life (http://www.catalogueoflife.org), and Marine Mammals of the World written by Jefferson[2] are the three main authoritative references.

For Chinese researchers, the main reference book is Chinese cetaceans written by Wang Peilie[3]. However, Chinese names of cetaceans differ among mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hence, their leading cetacean scientists have negotiated together and determined Chinese names for all cetaceans, which were not released publicly, even unknown to many professionals. These established names are now available in the database to all for inquiry, including cetacean protectors.

There is no database for cetacean stranding before in mainland China, while Taiwan has one similar database since 1994 (http://tcsn.whale.org.tw), which provides simple stranding records and no further details.

The Hainan cetacean stranding database releases all stranding information publicly, aiming to serve marine mammal scientists, environmentalists and governmental agencies, and lay the groundwork for the further establishment of a nationwide cetacean stranding database.

Acknowledgements

We would like to express our appreciation to Li Kuan, a postgraduate student from Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for uploading popular science information to this database.

References

1. Subcommittee on Fisheries Resource of National Technical Committee on Aquaculture of Standardization Administration of China. SC/T 9409-2012 Recording Requirements for Studbook Keeping of Captive Aquatic Mammals. Beijing: China Agriculture Press, 2013.

2. Jefferson T, Webber M, Pitman R. Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification. Pittsburgh: Academic Press, 2007.

3. Wang Peilie. Chinese cetaceans. Beijing: Chemical Industry Press, 2012.

Data citation

Zhang P, Li S, Lin M et al. Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993 – 2015). Science Data Bank. DOI: 10.11922/sciencedb.170.37

Responsibility of data authors

Zhang Peijun, PhD and Associate Professor; research areas: marine mammal conservation genetics, reproductive physiology and population management. Contribution: database establishment and stranding data collection and input.

Li Songhai, PhD and Professor; research areas: marine mammal bioacoustics. Contribution: database establishment and project supervision.

Lin Mingli, PhD and Assistant Professor; research areas: marine mammal ecology.  Contribution: cetacean stranding data collection (from 1994 to 2014).

Xing Luru, master and inter researcher; research areas: marine mammal popular science education. Contribution: popular science information sorting and uploading.

Chen Xiaoming, bachelor in computer, and Engineer. Contribution: technology support and routine maintenance of database.

Jiang Xiaohong, bachelor and research librarian; research areas: marine information and popular science. Contribution: coordination during the database establishment.

 

How to cite this article: Zhang P, Li S, Lin M et al. Database of Cetacean Stranding Records around Hainan Island (1993 – 2015). China Scientific Data 2 (2016). DOI: 10.11922/csdata.170.2015.0029

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