The phenomena of whales and dolphins committing
group suicide by beaching themselves can be a confusing one for scientists. Sometimes the reason for the stranding is
obvious, the individuals involved are all sick or injured. They are either pushed inshore
by currents as they are so weak or they intentionally head for shore because they are looking to
rest more easily in shallow waters. But this leads to further injuries, such as
cuts and abrasions and as their bodies are designed for remaining in deep water the unsupported
weight of their body on their internal organs also lead to injuries. The result
of stranding is often death. Naval exercises involving underwater sonar
pulses have been linked to mass strandings as individuals become disorientated and
injure themselves trying to flee. Environmental conditions such as declining
food stocks, unusually high or low temperatures, pollutants in the water and changing coastlines
could also cause the mammals to behave differently. But why pods of apparently healthy whales
and dolphins beach themselves is still not clear. There have been cases where people have managed
to refloat stranded whales and dolphins only for the animals to turn right back round and
beach themselves all over again. One of the main theories, attempting to explain
the phenomena is the social caring hypothesis. Healthy animals are said to strand themselves
alongside sick members of the group as a selfless gesture. They want to stay in contact and
care for their sick or injured companions. There is a suggestion that such behaviour may even be hardwired into these highly social animals. So there seems to be a number of explanations
behind why whales and dolphins seem to commit mass suicide but scientists are unable to
point to one definitve answer. As always I hope you found this video informative and
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