The spatial and temporal distribution pattern of stranded cetaceans in Korean waters was investigated for the conservation and management of cetaceans in this area. A total of 154 cetacean stranding events consisting of 12 species were recorded in Korean waters from 1997 to 2004 by the Korea Coast Guard. A total of 4 species, the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) (n = 43), Unless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis) (n = 43), Stejneger's beaked whale (Mesoplodon stejnegeri) (n= 15), and common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) (n= 11), accounted for 73% of the stranded cetaceans. The majority of stranding events took place in the East Sea (n = 99; 64%) followed by the Korea Strait (n = 48; 31%) and the Yellow Sea (n = 7; 5%). The hot spots of stranding events in Korean waters were Pohang (18%), Busan (9%), and Goseong (8%). The number of stranding events increased following the establishment of the bycatch/stranding reporting system in 1997, with a steep increase in the number of stranding events after 2000. There were more stranding events in spring and summer (66%) than in fall and winter (34%), with a peak from March to July (51%). This is the first report on the spatial and temporal distribution pattern of stranded cetaceans in Korean waters. Future work on strandings in Korean waters should strive to investigate the causes of these strandings.
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Vol. 70 • No. 1