Someone walking on Stewart Island came across beached whales this week in New Zealand. A few days later, 51 pilot whales died after beaching themselves on the Chatham Islands.
It’s not uncommon for whales to strand themselves. However, it usually involves one animal. Lately, though, there have been a plethora of strandings, and it’s causing concern.
Below is a few reasons why these whales may be beaching themselves.
Sickness and injury
According to one profession, animal tent to turn up on beaches due to exhaustion or malnourishment. Also, because they may be sick. Dr. Simon Ingram, a Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of Plymouth, says that they may even be in the final stages of death.
Beached Whales In New Zealand
Some experts on beached whales say that coastlines or seabeds may disorient the animals.
Dr. Ingram says that the tip of New Zealand is notorious for strandings. He says that it’s due to geographical features. For example, if the land features a peninsula or headland, then animals typically in deeper water may swim to a shallow bay. It happens all the time in the country. However, when it comes to the current case in New Zealand, some experts believe it may be due to warm waters.
When it comes to pilot whales, shallow water poses a risk because of the way these animals communicate and navigate each other.
One doctor says that these animals feed by using echolocation. Dr. Andre Brownlow is a veterinary pathologist who has worked with post-mortems and pilot whales in Scotland. They use sound to navigate and find their food while under water.
He says that using echolocation in shallow, muddy water is for them like us walking a forest on a foggy day. It comes hard to see, and can very well be the reason for beachings.