US experts probe beaching that killed 17 whales

September 2, 2012
US scientists are to investigate what led 22 whales to beach themselves in Florida—killing 17 of them—one of three such incidents in North America over the weekend.

US scientists are to investigate what led 22 whales to beach themselves in Florida—killing 17 of them—one of three such incidents in North America over the weekend.

The dead whales will be "dispersed at different labs across Florida for necropsy," or animal autopsies, Blair Mase, regional stranding coordinator for the , told AFP on Sunday.

Only five of the 22 survived after beaching themselves Saturday morning at Avalon Beach State Park, on the east coast of Florida, despite efforts by volunteers and experts to save the group.

So far, it is unclear why the whales swam ashore. Mase said experts would collect data to try to find out why the whales stranded themselves.

The , four and one calf, are "stable" and "swimming on their own," Mase said. They are currently at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and will likely be transported later to SeaWorld in Orlando.

However, two other groups of whales swam onto beaches in North America—one in on Saturday and another in Canada on Sunday—an occurrence that Mase said merited further investigation.

"It's very interesting that we're seeing all these mass strandings occur in North America right now," she added.

Pilot whales are tightly knit and sometimes swim on to beaches as a group when one of them is ill.

In those cases, Mase told local media, it does not help to push the whales back into the water, because they tend to quickly swim back to shore again.

Explore further: Pod of pilot whales stranded along Fla. beach

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not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
Not just on the North American side of the Atlantic--over the weekend 26 pilot whales beached themselves on east coast of Scotland between Anstruther and Pittenweem--ten died.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2012
Casual physorg reader, not qualified in any of these fields,but simultaneous trans-atlantic beachings is interesting.
I also noted that on Aug 31st there was a large CME.

Some quick web searching provided interesting facts,
Aug 19th 2010 CME, Aug 20th Beaching in NZ.
Sept 21st 2010 CME, Sept 22nd Beaching in NZ.
Jan 22nd 2012 CME, Jan 23rd Beaching in NZ.

Also, beached Dolphins are usually found to be deaf.
Do CME's cause marine mamals to become dis-orientated?
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
The species of whales and dolphins that have consistently mass beached feed on squid above the 65,000-km-long mid-ocean ridge system, the most earthquake-prone place on the planet. Certain earthquakes in the rift valley of this undersea mountain range generate intense changes in ambient water pressure that is often too excessive for the anatomy of the whales to counterbalance. Such quakes cause sinus and middle-ear barotrauma in the entire pod. Since intact and function air sinuses are mandatory for the workings of biosonar, a pressure-related tear in the sinuses will result in the abrupt loss of navigation. The injury also prevents diving and feeding. Increased drag to swimming in any directions except with the flow will quickly turn the streamlined bodies of the whales and point them downstream. Barotraumatized whales are steered from the epicenter the the beaches by the surface currents. see

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