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Why This Matters: Strandings like this are a rare event. Pilot whales are extremely intelligent and social creatures and when they beach they do it in large groups leading to mass deaths. Thanks to the quick work of Georgia beachgoers and lifeguards who jumped into action and as well as local animal rescue volunteers, dozens of pilot whales were saved. It is great to see such empathy for these animals — local folks could have just let them beach but instead chose to act.
According to research published in The Royal Society’s Proceedings B journal earlier this year, beaked whales (pilot whales are a type of them), in particular, are so distressed by the military using sonar in training exercises that they will beach themselves or dive to extreme depths resulting in decompression sickness.
The U.S. military does conduct undersea sonar training exercises near the Georgia coast.
Yet another possible explanation is that healthy whales following sick whales into shore and then become stranded themselves because they struggle to remain near the dying whale — whales and dolphins are known to have strong social bonds.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources spokesman Rick Lavender told the AP that the pod of whales remained offshore Wednesday afternoon and that the state had a boat with conservationists from National Marine Mammal Foundation following the whales and that a helicopter also was searching for more stranded whales but found none.
H/T to Raleigh and Stephanie, our partners at the St. Simons Land Trust, for this good news story!
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has set a new conservation standard, called the IUCN green status of species. This standard will not only suggest how close a species is to extinction but also how close it is to recovering its original population size and health. […]
As IFAW recently explained, no matter where you live—the valleys of the Himalayas, the Melbourne coastline, or the landlocked prairies of Kentucky—more than 50% of the air you breathe is produced by the ocean. Yet the ocean makes much of that oxygen thanks to little marine organisms called phytoplankton and the marvels of whale poop. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Rivers and lakes across Northwestern states — from Yellowstone to Montana — have lost most of their trout, due to extreme drought conditions. Because of this, state authorities have implemented a variety of restrictions to preserve their dwindling trout populations, leaving recreational fly fishers in the lurch. Why This […]
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