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Mass Stranding of Pilot Whales resulting in their Death puzzles Conservationists

Updated on February 14, 2015
Some of the 200 pilot whales which beached themselves on an island near Australia's southern state
Some of the 200 pilot whales which beached themselves on an island near Australia's southern state
Trained killer whales
Trained killer whales

Pilot whales like the bottlenose dolphins are trainable

  • THE pilot whale is a member of the dolphin family.
  • It can be trained in captivity, displaying intelligence equal to that of the bottlenose dolphin.
  • Some pilot whales are utilized as exhibition animals.which are displayed in aquariums and zoos.
  • Generally they are colored black to coal gray.
  • Male pilot whales reaching adulthood measure up to 20 feet and weigh up to 3 tons.
  • while their female counterparts measure up to 16 feet and weigh up to 1.5 tons.

Squids are primary food for pilot whales
Squids are primary food for pilot whales

Diet for pilot whales

  • They fed primarily on squids.
  • They likewise fed on octopus, scuttlefish, herring and other small fish especially when squids are not available.
  • They have but 40 to 48 teeth unlike other dolphin species which have 120.
  • An adult pilot whale can consume from up to 30 pounds per day.

Short-finned pilot whales found in the waters of Japan, Philippines, Hawaii, etc.
Short-finned pilot whales found in the waters of Japan, Philippines, Hawaii, etc.

Pilot whales habitat

  • Pilot whales are found all over the world in the northern and southern hemisphere- in tropical and temperate waters.
  • Short-finned pilot whales prefer to live in warmer waters
  • while cold and temperate waters are the habitat of the long-finned variety.
  • It is estimated that there are almost a miliion long-finned pilot whales and
  • at least 200,000 short-finned pilot wales worldwide.

Stranded whale in Northern Ireland
Stranded whale in Northern Ireland

Mass stranding of pilot whales puzzles conservationists

  • Pilot whales are social animals and partly because of their being so- they are oftentimes involved in mass strandings.
  • Per record as many as several hundreds of pilot whales have been involved at one time in mass strandings.
  • Up to now nobody could give the real reasons why whale beachings happened.
  • Reasons like persistence to keep the group together, mis-navigation while pursuing prey, sonar defects and parasitic infections are mere guesswork.

Mass stranding of whales in NZ
Mass stranding of whales in NZ

Concerned people try to save 42 stranded pilot whales

Let's listen to this more vivid account of whale beachings and how and what the people did in the area to save them from total annihilation:.

  • Thanks to vacationers and conservation workers for saving the lives of 42 pilot whales which got stranded Sunday- December 27, 2009 at Colville Beach, New Zealand.
  • Workers from the conservation department and hundreds of volunteers helped re-float and coax them to deeper waters at high tide.
  • Rescuers that day covered the wayward mammals with sheets and kept them wet all over so as to keep them alive and not suffer dehydration.

Stranded whales on NZ's South Island.
Stranded whales on NZ's South Island.

Lots of whales got stranded on New Zealand's beaches

Department of Conservation Steve Bolten expressed satisfaction over the rescue efforts by saying: " Some 63 pilot whales stranded ... but it looks pretty good. We've got 43 live ones ". Bolten said a whale may have been sick or their sonars may have led them to shallow water and they lost their way out.

  • Earlier on that Saturday- December 26, 2009 in South Island- New Zealand - 105 also stranded long-finned pilot whales died, conservation officials said.
  • They were discovered late by a tourist plane pilot. Conservation workers who responded to the site found 2/3 of them already dead. They were in bad shape for they have been out of the water for a long time.
  • So Golden Bay Biodiversity Program Manager Hans Stoffregen ordered that the remaining 30 which were already half-alive be euthanized to spare them from further pain and agony.
  • The total pilot whales to die on New Zealand beaches that particular weekened was brought to 126.
  • During summers on their way to their breeding grounds from the antarctic waters- a big number of whales got stranded on New Zealand's beaches as they passed by.
  • Scientists cannot give satisfactory answers why.

A wave from the local whales of Trinity Bay on the Bonavista Peninsula of Eastern Newfoundland
A wave from the local whales of Trinity Bay on the Bonavista Peninsula of Eastern Newfoundland

Contrary to rescue efforts, whales are herded to beaches and slaughtered in other places

  • Laurels to Australian conservationists for your rescue efforts. May I raise a substance of irony here. While conservation officials and workers, Australians and other well-meaning individuals are deeply involved in the conservation, preservation and protection of this species and other marine life- the reverse is true in other parts of the globe.
  • Listen. The American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet states that in what is called 'Drive Fisheries" group of whales are herded to the beach for slaughter. This activity has taken place on Cape Cod, Newfoundland, the Faroe, Shetland and Orkney Islands, Iceland and Norway.
  • The whales are killed for meat, bone, fertilizer and oil.
  • The same source states that in one drive fishery alone in Newfoundland killed over 50,000 whales between 1951 and 1961.
  • The kill continues in places such as the Faroe Islands despite obvious decrease in whale population.

About 500 whales stranded off Bataan
About 500 whales stranded off Bataan

Related Story

  • February 10: About 500 whales were stranded at a shallow area off the coast of Bataan province.
  • UP Associate Professor Dr. Lemuel Aragones said that this is the first time that such large numbers of dolphins had turned up in that part of the country. "We are trying to come up with a possible explanation to this unusual occurrence. It could be that the dolphins had lost their bearings and inadvertently ended up on the shallow portion of the coast unable to extricate themselves."
  • Some officials said the dolphins may have become disoriented after a ...

Source: Top Philippine News Stories of 2009, scroll down for February


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