Over 80 Whales Beached Themselves In India And No One Knows Why


By Amanda Froelich

Earlier this week, more than 80 whales were discovered stranded on the southern coast of India. Officials still don’t know what caused the phenomenon.

On Monday, more than eighty whales were discovered stranded on the southern coast of India. The phenomenon was a shock for locals and scientists around the world, as the cause of the beaching is unknown.

Al Jazeera reports that the short-finned pilot whales washed up on the beach of Tiruchendur, a small port city located in the Indian southern state of Tamil Nadu.

According to Deepak Bilgi, wildlife warden of the Gulf of Munnar Marine National Park, at least 36 of the mammals had been rescued and returned to the sea. However, they appeared to be disoriented, with some finding their way back to the beach. As a result, a minimum of 45 whales died.

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“Fishermen and officials dragged many whales into the sea, but several returned to the shore,” Kumar said.

Some think the disaster might be a result of disorientation as the whales travel in pods and the absence of a leader confuses the entire group. To discern the cause, one of the whales has been sent to a lab to receive an autopsy.

C. Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, has another theory, however. He suspects the whales might intentionally be beaching themselves.

He told The Dodo:

“The cause of mass strandings in pilot whales remains one of the great mysteries in the social behavior of whales and dolphins.

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Although strandings of some species, such as beaked whales, are now known to be the result of human disturbance, such as navy sonar or seismic surveys, the mass strandings of pilot whales seems to be a natural phenomenon that results from their strong social bonds.

Which means, the whales may be beaching themselves intentionally:

“The close social bonds presumably results in a kind of ‘herd panic’ or ‘herd cohesion,’ bringing the entire social group (the pod) into the shallow waters and at risk of stranding.”

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