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SYDNEY, Nov 29 (Reuters) - More than 100 whales and dolphins died in two separate beachings in 24 hours on remote Australian islands, leaving rescuers on Monday struggling to steer survivors out to sea and prevent more strandings.
A marine biologist from the International University of the Sea believes scientists may be able to prevent future whale and dolphin strandings by studying the affect of earthquakes.
Biologist Eric Mitran, based in Queensland, thinks there is a link between recent earth tremors in New Zealand and Tasmania and three strandings in the areas this week which caused the deaths of more than 150 whales and dolphins.
He says migrating animals, like birds and marine animals, follow magnetic field lines on the sea's surface which could be modified during an earthquake, throwing them off course.
Dr Mitran doubts seismic testing for oil and gas could affect the magnetic field lines.
"We've taken a number of samples for autopsies - it's going to take us a little while to get them processed," he said.
"It's a bit hard to put a definite time frame on it...the blubber samples should be analysed within the next six months and hopefully we'll get the heads analysed over a similar sort of time frame."
Originally posted by 1amc
Most beachings seem to happen in areas where seismic operations are taking place. Internal papers in the oil and gas industries have known of this for several years.
Nature Conservation Branch marine biologist Rosemary Gales said it was difficult to tell whether seismic testing had played any role in the two latest strandings.
"Overseas there have been some links between seismic testing and strandings, but not all testing uses the same frequency," Ms Gales said.
"We will be testing for any signs of auditory damage, but it is very hard to detect."
Gas giant Santos confirmed yesterday it had conducted a seismic program in the waters off the Victorian-South Australian border which finished on Friday.
Another program had begun on Saturday off the coast of Robe, south-east of Adelaide.
Sanfrancisco Gate (Dec 13)
Two weeks ago, the IUCN-World Conservation Union, a prestigious group of 70 nations and 400 nongovernmental organizations meeting in Bangkok, overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging governments to limit the use of loud noise sources in the world's oceans, including military sonar, oil and gas exploration and commercial shipping, until the effects are better understood. The United States abstained from the vote.