Subject: Why do Stranded Whales Die?

Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Fri, 22 Oct 1999 09:18:23 -0400

>Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 18:56:56 -0700
>Subject: Re: Why do Stranded Whales Die?
>From: "Dino Ilarde" <dinoi@earthlink.net>
>To: Kim Marshall <kimm@oceanalliance.org>
>Mime-version: 1.0
>X-Priority: 3
>
>     Dear Kim,
>
> Thanks so much for your very detailed reply to our question.  Now my
>daughter will impress everyone with the wealth of information you have
>provided and we (meaning the entire family) will be that much richer with
>our new-found knowledge.  Take care.
>
> Dino
>
> ----------
> From: Kim Marshall <kimm@oceanalliance.org>
> To: "Dino Ilarde" <dinoi@earthlink.net>
> Subject: Why do Stranded Whales Die?
> Date: Wed, Oct 20, 1999, 5:26 AM
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>Re: Why do whales die when they strand (or beach themselves)?
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>Dear Dino Llarde:
>
>When whales, including small whales or dolphins become stranded on beaches
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>they suffer from the pressure of their own weight on their organs,in the
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>water they are weightless.  They also suffer from overheating as they have
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>blubber that insulates them in the water and outside of the water causing
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>them to overheat.  This is why we place wet towels and cold water on their
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>fins and flukes when do they strand to help keep their body temperature
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>down.  Unfortunately most stranded whales do not survive once they have
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>beached themselves.
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>No one really knows why whales strand but with networks managed by the
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>National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA we are learning more and more
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>every day. Most mass strandings of whales occur with toothed whales that
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>live in pods with social hierachies like dolphins and piliot whales.  It is
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>beleived that if the leader of the group gets sick or disoriented the
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>others simply follow the leader onto the shore. Others believe that if
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>there is a illness throughout the group they will mass strand and die so as
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>not to transfer disease.
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>Another theory is that their sonar used for navigation may get absorbed by
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>particulates in the water near areas with a lot of upwelling ie: Cape Cod,
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>causing them to misinterpret information and basically they end up crashing
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>on land.
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>The last, but not least is the theory of the earth's magnetic pull and the
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>possible affect it may have in certain geographic areas on their ability to
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>navigate.  Whales have a mineral in their heads called magnetite which
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>might confuse their abilities to navigate when near land masses that can
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>react to this mineral.
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>
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>I would recommend contacting the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, at this
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>web address: http://www.mmsc.org or utilize the vast information available
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>through WhaleNet at http://whale.wheelock.edu/howtofind.html.  Good luck!
>
>
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>Question:
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>I found your e -mail address while doing a Yahoo search for answers to a
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>question my daughter has. For a school assignment, she has to find out why
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>whales die when they get beached. I guess that other than the obvious
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>answer of not being able to get back in the water, her teacher says it has
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>something to do with water pressure. I assume that because whales live deep
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>under the water, their anatomies are better suited to that environment, so
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>that when they do get beached for an extended period, their blood vessels
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>probably burst or something. Is this even close? Thanks!
>
>
>
>Kim Marshall-Tilas
>
>Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
>
>191 Weston Road
>
>Lincoln, MA  01773
>
>(781) 259-0423
>
>fax: 259-0288
>
>website: http://www.oceanalliance.org
>
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Kim Marshall-Tilas
Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
191 Weston Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
(781) 259-0423
fax: 259-0288
website: http://www.oceanalliance.org