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Whale Stranding: Whale Rescue and How You Can Help
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Whale Stranding: Whale Rescue and How You Can Help

Due to social media, we have witnessed various content that many people exhibit from different places. Maybe, you’ve also seen a story, a picture, or a video of a whale on a beach struggling or a group of people doing whale rescue for stranded whales.

Sadly, such a situation is never rare. Thousands of marine animals wash up on beaches globally every year, and many of these animals were whales. This phenomenon called beaching or whale stranding occurs among disabled animals and even in good health due to the prevailing winds. Other times, a group of marine mammals beaches themselves together in what is known as mass strandings.

If we are not going to pay attention and let this happen, whales and other marine animals will keep being helpless on land and eventually die. An incident where whales get stranded on their own is rampant in some parts of the world, including Europe. A more significant number, however, is wounded, old, or sick. On the other hand, in New Zealand, whales come ashore in groups where the majority are healthy and in perfect shape. But no matter the reason for a whale stranding, it’s relieving witnessing a whale rescue and knowing that people are trying to save these animals.

“There are probably as many reasons for why whales and dolphins strand as there are strandings themselves,” says Kevin Robinson, director of the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit, a Scottish marine conservation charity. This Marine Mammal Rescue Day, we feel the need to make you delve deeper into the reasons why this happens or the right actions we should make if we encounter a whale stranding in the future. Here’s what scientists want to let us know about why whales beach themselves.

In this article you will find:

What Causes Whales to Strand?

Natural Causes

“A stranded whale on the beach could be lost, sick, wounded, or compromised—for example, experiencing difficult labor or simply old,” explains Dan Jarvis, a welfare development and field support officer at British Divers Marine Life Rescue. Those animals that get weak might drift with the current until they settle ashore, while some can accidentally wander into shallower waters from disorientation. Besides that, climate change also has an indirect role to play in such incidents. “Climatic conditions do cause whale strandings,” says J.K. Patterson Edward, Director, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. Natural causes like injury or old age can be one reason why whales get stranded on a beach.

Human Activities

It becomes alarming when there’s a whale rescue due to a high number of whale stranding. Human-made pollution can be one of the treacherous causes. All these harmful chemicals subsequently make their way to the ocean, imposing risks to marine mammals and marine life as a whole. Rob Deaville, project manager at CSIP, reiterates there’s evidence that chemical pollutants are higher in diseased animals. Moreover, whales also experience entanglement, ingestion, or contamination of microplastics racking up in their bodies due to plastic pollution. Materials and substances that we use on a daily basis are usually the causes of pollution that can greatly affect our marine animals.

Mass Strandings

The term stranding refers to a marine animal found in the wrong location. When three or more animals strand together, it is called a mass stranding. Pilot whales are the most common species that people would find stranded. Mass strandings may consist of one or numerous species. More often than not, humans would find stranded animals more on a beach or in shallow water. With the whales’ herding instinct, the group will more likely stay together although one is sick. About 1,000 cetaceans and 2,500 pinnipeds strand every year along the U.S. coast alone. Noise pollution and overfishing interrupts tidal patterns which may sometimes be the cause why whales get stranded at the beach.

How Do You Rescue A Stranded Whale

For centuries, many people have wondered how a whale on a beach gets stranded. Scientists refer to the incidents as a whale stranding. Now that you’ve learned how this phenomenon happens and where it usually happens, you might as well educate yourself a bit on how you can respond to such an occurrence in the future so that you can contribute to a successful whale rescue.

One thing that you least like to happen when encountering a stranded whale is to panic. Once you’ve observed a beached whale, contact the authorities with your location. Tell as much detail about the whale. The right people to call in such a situation are the local marine mammal stranding network. Marine mammal stranding networks cover all coastal areas in the United States, as authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service. If you cannot reach a stranding network, your next option would be wildlife personnel or the police.

When reporting a whale stranding, it is essential to have the following details ready to pass on:

  • Description of the whale
  • Number of whales involved
  • Condition of the whale
  • The exact location and directions to the stranding site
  • Names and telephone numbers of people involved
  • Date and time of your observations

Things you must do for a stranded whale:

  • Do not immediately think of returning the whale to the sea. Whales go ashore for a reason, usually wounded or sick.
  • If you happen to find a stranded whale, make sure to keep people away from it. In handling it temporarily, it only needs two people until experts arrive. A lot of people will only stress the whale.
  • Keep the whale cool and wet by splashing water on the skin. Avoid getting water into the blowhole.
  • Apply wet towels or t-shirts and provide shade if possible using tarps or towels. Keep the blowhole free of obstructions and take care not to cover any of its fins or tail.
  • Be careful around the whale’s tail.

If you came across a stranded whale, keep the whale cool by splashing water on its skin and applying wet towels over its body.

Organizations You Can Support To Help Save The Whales

Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Whale and Dolphin Conservation has the utmost dedication to save whales and dolphins, using the vital funds that people give to fight the most significant threats these animals face and create a world where every dolphin and whale rescued is safe and healthy. WDC has been campaigning for an end to the trade in captive cetaceans.  

They are known for their vision: to create “a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free,” and their core belief is, “all dolphins and whales have the right to exist as nature intends, not as humans decide.”

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Sea Shepherd is genuinely stepping up their game to safeguard every whale rescued and every whale on a beach. Their conservation activities have the objective to protect the biodiversity of our marine ecosystems.

Their mission is"to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. "They protect the ocean by utilizing direct-action tactics to uncover illegal behavior that's threatening marine life. With our support, it will help to have them continue our aspirations for the marine animals.

Ric O' Barry's Dolphin Project

Dolphin Project is a nonprofit run by Ric O' Barry, a former animal trainer turned marine mammal activist. The Dolphin Project is passionately engaged in the Dolphin Sanctuary Project, aiming to make a whale rescue and release captive dolphins and establish sanctuaries to serve as permanent homes for these animals that cannot safely return to the wild.

The group's mission is "to end dolphin exploitation and slaughter, as dolphins are routinely captured, harassed, slaughtered and sold into captivity around the world – all in the name of profit."  While this organization focuses on dolphins, many of its kind undertakings incorporate advocacy for whales on the whole.

Save The Whales

Pretty straightforward! Save The Whales' mission is simple yet hard to achieve for many who are not as passionate and dedicated as this organization: "to preserve and protect the ocean and its inhabitants."  Save the Whales devotes effort and time to reach out to children about whales and marine life.

Due to its productivity, over 330,000 children have learned how to save sea life through Whales on Wheels. We invite you to keep in touch with this one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization that has been working and educating passionately to protect marine life for 40 years.

Marine mammals deserve a kingdom where they feel safe, protected, and truly belong. We believe that we have no right to neglect and harm shelters that are not ours and don’t live in
for survival.

Whales can die on shores due towhale stranding. There are various reasons why whales beach themselves, and sadly, there are again due to human activities. Others are natural causes, such as climate change and old age. Luckily, numerous organizations make whale rescue efforts in some parts of the world and in helping reduce activities that cause whales to strand. Not only that, because many of these organizations are also devoted to educating others, including the children, about marine life.

This Marine Mammal Rescue Day is the most memorable time to tackle this issue that people do not mention as many times as other environmental issues before. While whale stranding is a massive problem, there is no doubt that we can avoid many whale deaths if we pay more attention. There may be more whale rescue operations that can happen if we allow it and are for it.

Here at Wave Tribe, we support vital conservation projects around the world helping to protect whales and their homes. Marine mammals deserve a kingdom where they feel safe, protected, and truly belong. These organizations fight for many causes, and we do too in stopping plastic pollution and being against using materials and products that have damaging effects on our oceans. We believe that we have no right to neglect and harm shelters that are not ours and don’t live in for survival.  

Marine Mammal Rescue Day is a day to remember whales that get stranded and other marine mammals that humans held captive. It is a day where we must especially take action. We aim to make such horrible situations cease and let them live where they belong. Join our Heal the Oceans Campaign as a support for these animals that are suffering. We promote eco-surfing products and encourage everyone to use and make such to preserve our species in the ocean and our environment. Let’s make this day productive and beneficial for our whales and other marine mammals. 

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