Whale Suicide (strandings)

From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Sat Dec 21 2002 - 00:42:35 EST

  • Next message: Kim Marshall: "Math and Oceanography"

    Question:
    Hi Kim-My name is Jennifer and actually just received an e-mail from a
    friend
    that thinks her bird may have committed suicide. As strange as that sounded
    to me as well- I mentioned it to my father who in turn told me that whales
    are the only known animals that can commit suicide. This was interesting to
    me and I was hoping that you would share some information about this with
    me.

    Reply:
    Dear Jennifer,
    Because we do not fully understand the causes, the beaching of a whale is
    often mistaken for a suicide attempt. However, it is not believed that
    whales have any intention of harming themselves during a beaching. One of
    the reasons whales beach themselves is because of disease. Some species
    have a tight knit social structure so that if one member is accidentally
    beached, the rest will follow. It is also being researched as to whether
    sometimes a whale's sense of direction can be thrown off by different
    factors. This is what some scientists think happened to a whale named Moby
    that was beached in Scotland in the spring of 1997. They believe that Moby,
    along with other whales, turned too soon during their migration which caused
    them to become disoriented and lose their sense of direction. To read more
    about this incident, check out this WhaleNet page:
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/info97/0117.html

    Thank you for your question and happy holidays!

    Kim Marshall
    Executive Director
    Ocean Alliance (Whale Conservation Inst. & the Voyage of the Odyssey)
    191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
    781.259.0423 ext. 14 fax 259.0288
    www.oceanalliance.org www.pbs.org/odyssey
    Please support our efforts to conserve whales and their ocean environment
    through research and education :)



    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sun Dec 22 2002 - 08:06:55 EST