AUG 04, 2019 6:46 AM PDT

Dozens of Beached Pilot Whales in Iceland Prompt Major Rescue Effort

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Animal conservationists still haven’t pinned the cause on mass whale beachings; nevertheless, they transpire around the globe at an alarming rate. The latest occurrence involved dozens of stranded pilot whales off Iceland’s West coast just this weekend, and as you might come to expect, it left animal rescue crews with tons of work to be done.

Pictured: a pilot whale that was not involved in the stranding.

Image Credit: Pixabay

At least 50 pilot whales were involved in the stranding, and sadly, only around 30 of those lived to tell the tale. Local volunteers chipped in to help the stranded animals before rescue crews arrived by pouring and splashing water over the animals’ skin to keep them wet.

These whale-moistening efforts continued for several hours after the strandings until the high tide returned, which made it possible for the rescue crews to return the majority of the animals to sea safely.

Related: More than 145 whales found beached in New Zealand

While the exact cause for these mass whale strandings isn’t yet known, scientists have a few different theories up their sleeves. One of the most commonly-cited causes is that ship and submarine sonar messes with the animals’ natural ability to navigate, while another theory is that the whales chase small prey into shallower water and then fail to escape before the tide gets low.

Many other theories also exist, but it’s challenging to prove one over the other when there are so many different factors to take into consideration. Unfortunately, the difficulties involved in determining the cause of these strandings make it that much more challenging to prevent them, a vicious and troubling cycle indeed…

It’s heartbreaking when so many marine animals needlessly become stranded on beaches, but it’s also worth noting that pilot whales are plentiful in the world’s oceans. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies pilot whales as a ‘Least Concern’ species on the organization’s Red List, which means they aren’t in immediate danger of conservation troubles.

Perhaps future research will uncover the indefinite cause of these mass whale strandings. Until then, they’ll probably continue to happen.


About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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