The importance of strandings

Since records began in 1913, strandings have increased around the UK.

Learning from tragedy

From studying stranded cetaceans, we learn about their:

  • distribution
  • diet
  • health and diseases
  • reproduction
  • behaviour among the same, and between different, species
  • the effects of pollution
  • causes of death and threats to survival

Cause of death

There are a variety of causes of death to UK whales and dolphins.

  • Entanglement in fishing nets, known as bycatch.
  • Marine pollution: a wide range of pollutants are discharged into the sea including heavy metals such as mercury, pesticides and industrial chemicals. Untreated sewage may also present the threat of infection.
  • Infectious diseases: parasitic lung infection, pneumonia or fungal infections.
  • Starvation.
  • Over-fishing: mackerel, herring, sprats and sand eels have all declined in British waters, depriving cetaceans of food.
  • Disturbance and accidental collision with boats and propellers.
  • Noise pollution: human noise, including commercial dredging, potential effects of naval sonar, busy shipping lanes.