Why do whale strandings occur?

Published by Anaya Cole on

Why do whale strandings occur?

The beaching of a single, live animal is usually the result of sickness or injury. Bad weather, old age, navigation errors, and hunting too close to shore also contribute to beachings. Some whale and dolphin species are more prone to mass beachings. Toothed whales (Odontoceti) are the most commonly affected.

What are mass strandings?

When three or more animals strand together in time and place, it is called a mass stranding. Communal animals, such as small cetaceans like pilot whales are the most common species found stranded. Mass strandings may include one or several species.

What are some of the possible reasons for mass stranding of some species of whales and dolphins?


  • Parasites.
  • Biotoxins.
  • Acoustic Testing (eg. sonar, air guns)
  • Following Prey Ashore.
  • Magnetic Field Anomolies.
  • Geography.
  • Social Bonds.
  • Combination of Factors.

Why do whales get barnacles?

Barnacles don’t serve any obvious advantage to the whales, but they give helpful lice a place to hang onto the whale without getting washed away by water. Barnacles find the slow-swimming gray whale a good ride through nutrient-rich ocean waters.

Why do whales breach out of the water?

It is an unusual behavior to carry out due to the high-energy demand it requires. For example, a full Humpback breach requires the whale to break through the water’s surface at its top speed of 28km/h. The simplest explanation for a whale jumping out of the water appears to be sociality or alertness.

Why do marine animals come ashore?

Marine mammals may strand for any number of reasons. Marine mammals, like humans, get sick, tired, lost, or seperated from their mom when they are young. Pinnipeds, the seals and sea lions, often come to shore as part of their normal life history. Seals and sea lions will come ashore to rest, molt, and give birth.

Do whales intentionally beach themselves?

Their bonds are so strong that if the healthy animals are released back into the ocean—or “refloated”—and hear a pod member calling to them from shore, they will re-beach themselves to be with that animal. To prevent this, rescuers must attend to the stricken animal before refloating the pod.

What can scientists learn from stranding events?

Strandings provide a great deal of information to researchers and resource managers. Information collected provides many insights into the lives of marine animals, including seasonal distribution, natural history, population health, environmental contaminant levels, cases of human interaction, and incidence of disease.

Why do dolphins get stranded on beaches?

Single strandings, however, can usually be attributed to injury. An injured dolphin may seek shelter in shallow waters, wanting time to heal, but end up getting caught in a changing tide and be unintentionally stranded in its weak state. Dolphins can become victims of their own folly.

Do whales feel pain from barnacles?

Big Batches of Barnacles The barnacles are just along for the ride. They don’t harm the whales or feed on the whales, like true parasites do.

Can you scrape barnacles off a whale?

The only situation in which they must be removed is if there are too many barnacles clinging to whales, which can cause skin irritation. As barnacles dig into a whale’s skin, hosting too many of them may result in the top layer of whale skin being scraped off. What is this? Barnacles themselves are not harmful at all.

Why do seals washed up on shore?

Dan said: “It’s usually due to decomposition and also scavenger damage by seabirds. Healthy seals can spend a large amount of their time on land to get rest. Injuries and sickness can also cause them to come ashore – like this wounded pup rescued in Seaburn last week.

Why do seals come close to shore?

Seals are semi-aquatic, meaning they spend some of their lives in the water and some of it on land. They haul out on rocks or the shore to warm and dry in the sun, molt, give birth, or sometimes just to rest. Seals don’t need to stay wet and can go days without eating.

Where do mass strandings occur?

Mass strandings can also occur in northern Europe. In February 2016, 29 sperm whales were found stranded on the coasts of Germany, the Netherlands, eastern England, and northern France, a record for this species in the North Sea.

What types of whales are most likely to be involved in mass strandings?

Mass strandings almost invariably involve oceanic species of whales. Long-finned and short-finned pilot whales tend to be the most frequent casualties. Other species typically are false killer whales, melon-headed whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and sperm whales.

What causes marine animals to strand?

There are many identified causes of strandings, including disease, parasite infestation, ship strike, pollution exposure, starvation, extreme weather events, and tidal changes. However, determining the exact cause of a marine animal stranding or death is often difficult.

What is a mass stranding of animals called?

When three or more animals strand together in time and place, it is called a mass stranding. Communal animals, such as small cetaceans like pilot whales are the most common species found stranded. Mass strandings may include one or several species.

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