Nov. 29, 2018

Over 140 pilot whales have died after beaching themselves on Stewart Island in New Zealand.


  • Meaning: Cetacean stranding is commonly known as It is a phenomenon in which whales and dolphins strand themselves on land, usually on a beach.

  • Global scenario: Cetacean strandings are common; some 2,000 are beached every year on average around the world.

  • Reason: Exact reasons are not known. Several explanations have been proposed, but none have so far been universally accepted as a definitive reason for the peculiar behaviour.

  • Proposed Theories:
    • Reasons for mass strandings are attributed to rough weather, following prey too close to the shore or being herded towards the shore by larger whales, and the failure of their echolocation faculties to detect very gentle slopes.

    • There is also the theory of ‘follow-me’ strandings, which says entire pods sometimes end up on beaches after one or a few members lose their bearings.

    • Research published in September 2017 submitted that solar storms triggered geomagnetic disruptions that impacted the ability of whales to navigate in the North Sea, leading them towards shallow waters.

  • Consequence: Beached whales often die due to dehydration, collapsing under their own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole.