Almost 50 Dolphins Die After Becoming Stranded On An Argentinian Beach
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More than 60 dolphins were left stranded on a popular beach in Argentina.
A dozen of the short beaked common dolphins were successfully returned to the ocean, but 49 of them died.
It is thought that a higher number of Killer Whales than usual being in the area could have had something to do with the mass stranding.
A couple were walking alongside the sea at Puerto Madryn, in Patagonia, Northern Argentina when they saw a huge flock of birds and realised that they were pecking at some of the dolphins that had become beached.
They immediately alerted the authorities who rushed to the beach, which falls within the El Doradillo Protected Natural area.
The coastal authorities managed to get 12 of the dolphins back to sea, but the vast majority of them died on the beach.
The operation was headed up by Mariano Coscarella and Silvana Dans, who work for the Marine Mammal Laboratory for the Study of Marine Systems.
Coscarella said:"We have a protocol in place and local authorities arehelping us with the logistics.First, we will store the dead specimens andthen start an investigation into their deaths.
"It is the first case ofmarine mammals being stranded in this region, therefore it is anunprecedented situation."
The Government's Secretary for Protected Areas, Nestor Garcia, said: "It has been a very sad morning. Fortunately some dolphins were saved. After speaking with specialists, I can say that there has been an increased presence of killer whales in the area but we do not yet know if that is a cause. We will have to wait for the results of the investigation."
Just last week 150 short finned pilot whales became stranded on Hamelin Beach in Western Australia. Despite the best efforts of rescuers and volunteers only six whales survived, leaving more than 140 dead.
It's not exactly clear why whales and dolphins sometimes beach themselves. There have been instances where military sonar has been found to be the case, but it can also be when the pod of whales or dolphins makes a navigational error.
Scientists have recently been carrying out research using trained dolphins to try to establish what effect human underwater noise could be having on whales and dolphins.
They found that dolphins are sometimes scared by sonar and take evasive action. This action can cause the animals to become more tired, and make more mistakes with their own navigation.
This could lead them into shallow water, increasing the chances of beaching.