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More than 120 whales have died over 48 hours in two separate beachings in New Zealand.
Over 100 long finned pilot whales died after becoming stranded on a remote beach in the north of NZ's South Island on Saturday, while another 20 will be buried by a local Maori tribe after they beached themselves on the North Island's east coast.
While strandings are common in New Zealand - there are up to six mass strandings a year - it is rare for two to happen so close together.
Originally posted by ravenshadow13
reply to post by TheCoffinman
It's a bummer. I mean, I'm very familiar with these events and I work with beached individuals (cetaceans and pinnipeds- whales/dolphins and seals/walruses) on a regular basis. They say "It's the climate, it's the earth's magnetism, it's the sonar, it's the bacteria and chemicals in the water, blah blah blah."
I honestly don't know what it is but I do know that sonar and other devices used by Naval Forces can greatly affect cetaceans. And I know that changes in magnetism can affect the internal compasses of cetaceans. I also know that cetaceans have a mechanism where if one animal beaches, perhaps due to illness or some other factor, many will follow, maybe in an attempt to try and save that individual.
[edit on 12/27/2009 by ravenshadow13]
"The majority of strandings involve pilot whales," said Mr Donaghue. "They are highly social whales and if one gets into trouble the others are reluctant to abandon it.
"If a sick animal goes into shallow water the others will follow it in. Once they're in shallow water, their sonar doesn't work as the sand scatters their sonar waves and they become confused.
"This is what may have happened here. I have never seen a group so reluctant to go back to sea. Most of the time it takes a couple of minutes to refloat stranded whales but this time they kept milling about and squealing. At one point I thought they were going to re-strand, but they might just have been waiting for mummy to give birth."
Current research is aiming to verify a process known as sonar termination. It may be that sonar termination is the main cause of dysfunction of cetacean echolocation during a mass stranding of apparently healthy toothed cetaceans (odontoceti). Sonar termination occurs when a pod of cetaceans emits an echolocation signal toward a coast with a gently sloping shoreline and under certain meteorological conditions a reflection will not be detected. The reflection contains important information about the location and features of the shoreline. The lack of reflections received from the coast would appear to be a ‘deaf spot’ to the cetaceans, analogous to the human ‘blind spot’. The coast may appear as thick 'fog' to the pod of cetaceans and may induce a navigational error.