Scientists are confused as to why at least 95 confirmed false killer whales have stranded themselves on a coast of Florida’s Everglades National Park. The number that died from the event has reached 82, and is rising little by little each day.
Image Credit: NOAA/Twitter
False killer whales, despite their misleading name, are not a type of whale at all; they’re actually a type of dolphin. They get their name because of how closely they resemble killer whales in shape, despite having different colors.
While the animals in the region aren’t considered an endangered species, there is reportedly a population of these creatures near Hawaii that are.
The findings were first shared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a Tweet, and it’s not highly understood why the species partakes in this kind of sad behavior. Nevertheless, it’s concerning marine biologists.
95 false killer whales stranded off Hog Key, 81 dead, 1 seen alive, ~13 unaccounted for pic.twitter.com/rrltA7iVB6— NOAA Fish Southeast (@NOAAFish_SERO) January 16, 2017
"This is the largest mass stranding ever for this species in the United States," NOAA Marine Biologist Erin Fougères said in a statement, "And one of the largest mass strandings we've ever had in the southeast."
Attempts were made to help herd the creatures back into the wild waters, but success proved to be minimal at best.
At this point in time, scientists are using all available resources to try and explain why the creatures are stranding themselves. They’ve been taking samples from the bodies of the deceased, looking for any clues they can find.
For what it’s worth, many of these of marine life species are known to strand themselves in large groups, rather than singularly. This fact alone seems to represent a mentally-aware aspect in the mystery, suggesting they choose to do this together in a bout of suicidal tendencies.
“They live in kind of a constant social group, so when one or two individuals become sick, it's thought that when they head towards shore the rest of the group will follow because they are so closely knit. We don't know that that's what happened in this particular situation but it is one of the common theories that is considered when there is a mass stranding of animals,” Fougères continued.
Perhaps the creatures are unhappy, perhaps the changing environment is decreasing their quality of life, perhaps the creatures are trying to grow a pair of legs and evolve to become land mammals. We may never really know the true answer to these mysteries, but we must find out before this becomes so common that the populations of these species hit dangerously-low numbers.