Yesterday, more than 30 short-finned pilot whales stranded in the west of the Cape Verdean Island of Boavista.
A fisherman who was working in the waters off the beach of Varandinha called our local office after he discovered the incident on the beach.
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In a joint effort of NGOs and local government a rescue mission was started, and together with a group of tourists more than half of the animals could be brought back to the sea alive, while the others died on the beach.
Unfortunately, at least one of the rescued animals stranded again and also died. Mass strandings of pilot whales occur occasionally on Boavista and elsewhere.
The causes of such events are still not fully understood; closer in discussion are disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field, but also the strong social bonds between the animals, who might follow a sick, disoriented member of the group into shallow waters.
The increasing artificial underwater noise caused by ship traffic, seismic surveys, and military sonar experiments leads to additional disturbances of the whales’ sensitive acoustic orientation system.