Why Do Whales Beach Themselves?

When it comes to why whales beach themselves scientists haven’t been able to find a clear answer but have had many speculations and ideas as to why this may occur.

Whales beaching themselves have been recorded throughout history.

In fact historical records indicate that whales have been beaching themselves since at least 300 B.C., however scientists are discovering that whale stranding’s appear to be occurring more frequently and in larger numbers than previously known and while scientists are unclear as to whether this increase in numbers is simply due to more people reporting stranding’s or because the number of stranding’s has actually increased due to human factors it has raised some concerns in the eyes of marine biologists, activists and whale lovers.

One possible reason given by marine biologists and scientists as to why whales may be beaching themselves more frequently is that increases in man-made materials and chemicals is causing greater pollution in the ocean which can lead to marine mammals being born deformed, mentally impairing otherwise healthy whales and poisoning or causing death to marine mammals as a result of poisonous chemicals.

Another common concept adopted by some marine biologists and scientists is that man-made sonar may be interfering with a whales echolocation and/or natural brain wave activity causing whales to become disoriented or sick forcing them to flee towards shallow waters where they end up beaching themselves.

While no definite answer can be given as to the cause of whale beaching’s and whether or not they are actually increasing in recent times we can assume that at least some of these concepts and ideas may be contributing to the cause of whale beaching’s.

Below you can find several possible causes that may contribute to the beaching of whales.

12 Possible reasons why whales beach themselves

1) Injuries from collisions with boats, ships and other man-made aquatic machines.

As more ships take over the ocean and global trade continues to increase so does the opportunities for whales to collide with ships and become injured or disoriented causing them to accidentally strand themselves.

2) Water pollution

Whales can become sick or poisoned due to pollutant chemicals such as gas and acid, and from the accumulation of daily waste created from everyday living.

3) Confusion due to man-made sonar

Some biologists and scientists speculate that whales may become disoriented, sick and confused by the use of man-made sonar which may interfere with a whales brainwaves or use of echolocation causing the whale to lose its sense of direction and beach itself.

4) Natural diseases

Just as humans suffer from sickness and natural diseases marine mammals may also be subject to natural diseases beyond their or our control.

5) Attacks from sharks or other marine mammals

Whales may beach themselves in an attempt to escape or find cover from shark attacks or attacks from other marine mammals such as the killer whale.

6) Poison from various aquatic species

While it is more difficult to find adequate information regarding whales being poisoned by other aquatic species it is definitely possible that a whale could become poisoned and disoriented causing it to swim to shore.

7) Changes or abnormalities in the earths magnetic field

Some biologists believe that abnormalities caused by changes in the earths magnetic field may interfere with a whales biological navigation causing it to lose its sense of direction

8) Pneumonia

Just as humans get Pneumonia so do whales and there are recorded cases of whales swimming to shore as a result of catching Pneumonia.

9) Traumas caused by various aquatic elements in the environment

While whales generally have a good sense of direction and are excellent swimmers there are some instances when a whale may collide with a large natural element (ie: a large rock) in its environment causing it to become injured and disoriented.

10) Changes in the weather and ocean caused by global warming

A common topic discussed today is global warming and its impact on the earth.

Changes in the tides, melting icebergs and shifting food sources such as fish may force whales to relocate and wander off course causing them to swim into shallow waters or possibly even beach themselves.

11) The whale has already died

In some cases a whale may end up beached because it has already died and ended up washing ashore.

12) Following the pack

Whales are very social creatures often travel in large pods or groups.

In rare instances some pods or groups may unknowingly follow a sick or disoriented whale towards shallow waters and/or beaches where they can possibly get stuck in shallow water or end up beaching themselves.

As stated earlier some of these theories are difficult to prove on a large-scale, however they are worth noting because each concept posses a possibility as to why whales beach themselves and is important for finding possible solutions to this problem, especially those that may be caused by the contribution of humans.