Subject: Whale "suicide"

Al Romero (romero@macalester.edu)
Tue, 09 Feb 1999 07:28:08 -0600

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At 03:47 PM 2/9/99 +0800, you wrote: 
>
> hi. I would like to know more about how the mass whale suicide happened (i
> think 2-3 years ago) I'm not sure what happened but many dead whales were
> found on the beach (somewhere) and they were thought to be suicides, as
there
> cannot be so many whales stranded on the beach. Please help me look for
> information on this incident for my school project (i couldn't find anything
> on the internet). Thank you.


There is no evidence that whales and dolphins commit "suicide." That is a
human
act. To try to translate human behavior into animal behavior is not always
wise. That is why you could not find too many things in the Internet about it.
What it is more common are strandings. This is a phenomenon that is little
understood. Some species (e.g., pilot whales) seem to beach more frequently
than others. Certain places (such as New Zealand) show a higher number of
strandings than others. The causes may range from disease to just natural
death. Hypotheses such as "disorientation" have yet to be proven. Many species
of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) show strong social structures. Many think
that what happens is that the members of the same pod accompany those who
beach
and die doing so just out of a social bond.

Best wishes,

 

Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.
Director and Associate Professor
Environmental Studies Program
Macalester College
1600 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105-1899
(651) 696-8157
(651) 696-6443 (fax)
romero@macalester.edu 
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At 03:47 PM 2/9/99 +0800, you wrote:
hi. I would like to know more about how the mass whale suicide happened (i think 2-3 years ago) I'm not sure what happened but many dead whales were found on the beach (somewhere) and they were thought to be suicides, as there cannot be so many whales stranded on the beach. Please help me look for information on this incident for my school project (i couldn't find anything on the internet). Thank you.

There is no evidence that whales and dolphins commit "suicide." That is a human act. To try to translate human behavior into animal behavior is not always wise. That is why you could not find too many things in the Internet about it. What it is more common are strandings. This is a phenomenon that is little understood. Some species (e.g., pilot whales) seem to beach more frequently than others. Certain places (such as New Zealand) show a higher number of strandings than others. The causes may range from disease to just natural death. Hypotheses such as "disorientation" have yet to be proven. Many species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) show strong social structures. Many think that what happens is that the members of the same pod accompany those who beach and die doing so just out of a social bond.

Best wishes,



Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.
Director and Associate Professor
Environmental Studies Program
Macalester College
1600 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105-1899
(651) 696-8157
(651) 696-6443 (fax)
romero@macalester.edu

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