Beaching or stranding is a condition that happens in both healthy humans and injured (or dead) animals that are washed ashore by high winds.

Thousands of whales, dolphins, and other aquatic creatures wash up on beaches all around the world every year.  Mass strandings occur when a group of aquatic animals beaches themselves together, and other times an area can experience an unusually high amount of strandings over a period of time. 

(Photo : Elianne Dipp)

This phenomenon is commonly called cetacean stranding.

Cetacean Stranding

(Photo : Pixabay)

Since records began, there have been accounts of cetaceans stranding, and it is a concern for any country with a coastline. Normal causes such as age and illness, as well as human-related factors such as bycatch, vessel accidents, and environmental destruction, cause stranding. Stranding can be caused by a combination of natural and human causes. Animals may stand alive on the sand or drown at sea and be swept ashore by the currents (often referred to as beachcast).

The phenomenon of dolphins and whales stranding themselves on shores is referred to as cetacean stranding or beaching. Around 2,000 strandings occur each year around the world, with most of them resulting in the animal's death. Beachings are so unusual that they pose no direct threat to either species. A single, live animal beaching is normally the result of illness or accident. Beachings are often caused by bad weather, aging, navigational mistakes, and hunting too close to the sea.

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The most common causes of beachings are:

Natural Causes

False Killer Whale
(Photo : Juan Ortega via Wikimedia Commons)
False Killer Whale

According to Dan Jarvis, a welfare development and field support officer with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a beached whale may be sick or wounded, senile, lost, unable to eat, or otherwise compromised-for example, enduring strenuous labor-or merely aged. Weakened animals may sink with the current until they are rescued, while disoriented animals may stray into shallower waters by mistake.

Human Activities 

False Killer Whale
(Photo : Protected Resouces Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California via Wikimedia Commons)
False Killer Whale

Humans are still contributing to the problem. Many of the accidents (and deaths) that occur from strandings are caused by fishing, waste, ship collisions, and other causes. The most famous human-made cause of death for cetaceans is entanglement in fishing lines. Robinson blamed fishing for the baiji dolphin's physical disappearance and the imminent extinction of the vaquita. Overfishing deprives cetaceans of their primary food supplies, causing them to prey in coastal or tidal waters.

Oceanic Noise

(Photo : Elianne Dipp)

Noise, such as sound waves from sonar and seismic tests, disrupts whales' ability to interact and navigate and may lead them to strand by deafening, disorienting, or terrifying them. Deep-sea animals that live in the open ocean, such as beaked whales, are particularly vulnerable to sonar, which can be heard from miles away. The string of beaked whale strandings in Guam, for example, is believed to be linked to naval sonar activity. Whales, according to Robinson, are "perhaps the most acoustically intelligent species on the planet." The sounds can cause damage to their hearing because sound moves quickly through water than air and maintains its strength for longer.

Also Read: False Killer Whale Autopsy Report Revealed How to Help the Endangered Species

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