The stomach contents of seven male sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus (Odontoceti:
Physeteridae) from the north-east Atlantic were examined. One animal was stranded on 27 November
1997 near Wassenaar (the Netherlands). Four became stranded the following day, 28 November
1997, on the island of Ameland (the Netherlands); three of these had food remains
in the stomach. Samples were also examined from a whale stranded in August 1998 at
Bettyhill (Scotland) and one live-stranded in March 1996 at Tory Island, Co. Donegal
(Ireland). Finally, a sample of the stomach contents from a whale stranded near Terneuzen
(Scheldt Estuary, the Netherlands) in February 1937 was also examined.
All samples consisted almost entirely of cephalopod beaks. Some fish remains were also found in the stomach of the Wassenaar and one of the Ameland whales. The cephalopod prey were mainly oceanic species: Gonatus sp. (probably Gonatus fabricii, Oegopsida: Gonatidae) was the main prey for all the animals stranded in the Netherlands. The specimen stranded in Ireland had consumed a wider range of prey, mainly Histioteuthis bonnellii (Oegopsida: Histiotetuhidae), but also Architeuthis sp. (Oegopsida: Architeuthidae), Chiroteuthis sp. (Oegopsida: Chiroteuthidae), Teuthowenia megalops (Oegopsida: Cranchiidae) and the octopod Haliphron atlanticus (Incirrata: Alloposidae). The fish remains from the Wassenaar whale were saithe (Pollachius virens, Gadiformes: Gadidae), while remains of monkfish (Lophius sp., Lophiiformes: Lophiidae) and an unidentified fish were recorded from one of the Ameland animals.