Do you know what is meant by whales stranded on the beach? It means that the whale comes to the beach and dies. There could be numerous reasons for this phenomenon which will be uncovered later. Firstly, there has been a drastic rise in the number of whales on the beach around the Uk coastline. Similarly, Newzealand has one of the highest rates of strandings in the whole world. About 300 whales and dolphins strand in Newzealand every year.
Record-breaking 1000 animals were stranded in 2017 alone.
Between 2011-2017, a total of 4896 dolphins, whales and porpoises died on the beaches.
Why Whales Strand on Beach?
Stranding is a complex event, one cannot simply predict the factors that lead to it. But there are some common factors that are described below:
When a whale gets injured, it becomes sluggish and might end up on the beach, stranded. The injuries that damage their sense of communication and navigation will also lead to a whale being stranded.
Sickness or Old Age:
When a whale becomes old it becomes weak and its senses decline, so there is a possibility of it being stranded on a beach. Sickness could be due to any toxin, pollutant or any diseased condition. Scarcity of food or malnourishment are also factors that contribute to a whale being stranded.
Navigational errors disrupt a whale’s ability to navigate its way in the sea. It results in the whale being washed up on the beach. Sometimes there are sandy beaches that do not reflect echolocation and the whale mistakenly gets washed up on the beach and dies. Lastly, the unfamiliarity of the coastal area and bad weather conditions also contribute to navigation errors.
When a whale or a couple of whales get stranded on a beach so they give a distress signal, by hearing that the other nearby whales come near the shore and get washed up by the tide and suffer the same consequence. Consequently, mass strandings occur.
Whales on Beach of UK: Why are scientists investigating it?
It has been nearly 19 years since scientists have been studying why whales, dolphins and other animals wash up on the beach around the UK’s coastline. It helps to study the animal’s reaction to atmospheric change.
Furthermore, it gives valuable insight into marine life in the British waters, accidental fishing, pollution, human impact and evolving behavior of different species. Yet still, the reasons are still vague for whales being washed up on the beach.
What did the Scientists Conclude About Whales on Beach?
Post mortem of about 1000 specimens was carried out over a period of 7 years, so the root cause could be identified. Accidental entangling in fishing net caused the death of one in ten porpoises and one in four dolphins.
Other factors that accounted for the deaths were the human impact, killed by being hit by a ship and swallowing marine litter. To get a more clear picture further, we need an extensive investigation and global surveys so that we can then come up with programs to save marine life from being stranded.