Research, Technology

In the US, whales began to die en masse, and scientists do not know why

Starting from 2018 along the entire easterncoast of the USA there is a mass extinction of humpback whales. An unusual phenomenon is observed in the territory from Maine to Florida, and scientists cannot understand what is the reason for the beaching of whales. In just the past seven years, people have discovered the bodies of almost 200 marine mammals. To date, they are not considered an endangered species, although their population used to suffer greatly from whaling. Initially, their number reached 150 thousandindividuals, but today there are about 60 thousand. Therefore, no one can allow their further extinction. Experts are watching what is happening, and they have some interesting suggestions - perhaps the whales are dying due to a collision with ships or they are being harmed by wind farms.

According to statistics, up to 2,000 whales are washed ashore every year. For seven years now, this has been happening most often on the East Coast of the United States.

Whaling in the 21st century is banned worldwide. An exception was made only for residents of Chukotka - they have a non-commercial hunting permit. If interested, we have a comprehensive article on how the Chukchi hunt whales.

Content

  • 1 In the US, whales are washed ashore
  • 2 Why do whales wash up on shore?
    • 2.1 Whales collide with ships
    • 2.2 Whales are harmed by wind farms
    • 2.3 Whales are dying out due to global warming
  • 3 Benefits of whales for nature

In the US, whales are washed ashore

According to IFL Science, over the past seven36 dead humpback whales were found on the beaches of New York State. During the same period of time in Massachusetts, people found 35 bodies of marine mammals. Approximately the same numbers appear in the statistics of 13 other coastal states of America.

Beaching cetaceans is not a new phenomenon. Sometimes animals explode because of the accumulated gases inside them.

See also: How do whales change old skin to new?

Why do whales wash up on shore?

Scientists have been studying whale strandings for years. After the start of the mass death of humpbacks in the east coast of the United States, scientists began to study this phenomenon even more.

Whales collide with ships

Upon discovery, experts performed an autopsybodies of mammals - in total they studied 90 humpback whales. The study found that 40% of humpback whales were injured as a result of collision with ships or entangled in fishing nets. Based on this, we can conclude that marine mammals are washed ashore due to the abundance of ships and active fishing. Indeed, the ports of New York and New Jersey recorded a peak in cargo transportation across the water in 2022. However, this is not the only likely reason for the extinction of whales.

One version says that whales are washed ashore to escape killer whales and other predators.

Whales are being harmed by wind farms

Some people believe that whales jump out ofwater ashore due to the abundance of wind farms in the coastal states. Opponents of wind energy are sure that generators emit infrasonic noise that can harm any living organism. This noise is comparable to that of a car moving at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour - people who live near wind farms may experience anxiety and other unpleasant sensations.

There is a version that wind farms harm whales

In addition, it is believed that the noise of a certainfrequency frightens animals - whales may well be among them. Considering that marine mammals communicate using high-frequency click and whistle sequences, the noise coming from the generator blades may well confuse them and cause them to wash ashore.

Article in the topic, you need to read everything: Wind farms can be harmful to health. Why are they dangerous?

Whales are dying out due to global warming

Needless to say, experts do not denyharmful effects on whales of global warming. Huge mammals eat tiny crustaceans, which are dying out as a result of rising water temperatures. So it is possible that the whales are suffering from hunger. It may also be that the reason for their death is that while eating they absorb a huge amount of microplastics. However, in the bodies of the dissected whales, scientists did not find any damage associated with hunger and plastic.

One of the most talked about cases of 2021: In the US, a man was swallowed by a whale, but he managed to survive

Benefits of whales for nature

To assess the extent of the problem, you canlook at an interactive map from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It shows where whales have been found stranded on the east coast. As you can see, bodies were found at almost every step. And the deaths of whales are growing every year, and no one knows how to stop it.

The map shows the places where dead whales were found

At the moment, the cause of their death maybe in active cargo transportation, fishing, construction of wind farms, global warming and water pollution. Perhaps in the future, scientists will be able to name other probable causes or confirm one of the hypotheses - if something curious comes up, we will definitely tell about it.

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Finally, it should be noted that humpbacks -large whales, but not the largest. The largest individuals can have a body length of 18 meters and weigh more than 30 tons. This type of whale received its unusual name either because of the dorsal fin in the form of a hump, or because of their swimming with a strongly arched back. Like other species of whales, humpback whales play an important role in the life of the Earth - they absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide, and thus contribute to saving the planet from global warming. You can read more about this property of marine mammals in the article “Whales can cope with global warming better than trees.”