Friday, 7 February 2014

Unusual numbers of whales stranding on the Florida coast in the past two months

A total of 93 whales have become stranded on Florida beaches in the past two months, almost three times the average, reports the local news agency, the Sun Sentinel. These large numbers have baffling marine biologists, making them wonder if a deadly common denominator is at play, such as a series of cold fronts affecting Florida in the past month.

"Any kind of front or a hurricane disorients the animals, and they come in," said Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.

Nothing so far is conclusive, but various alternative theories include the speculation that the whales might have contracted morbillivirus, which is similar to canine distemper and has been affecting dolphins along the east coast of the USA recently. Or, the whales could be following a sick leader which headed to shallow waters to make breathing easier, according to Denise Boyd, a research biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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