News! We now have a website created by our editor Elizabeth Batt, International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network, where you will find more information and can track our progress.
Also, we have welcomed systems architect Terran Baylor to the team, to orchestrate IT/Development.
We are looking to create a worldwide network for sightings of beached and stranded whales and dolphins. Developing the app for it however, is the most expensive part of the project. We are therefore appealing to all IT experts to step forward and volunteer their design services. If we can achieve donated help with this aspect of our project then our costs will drop significantly. Funds can then be used instead, towards a public awareness campaign.
This will be helpful for strandings that might otherwise go unreported (such as in countries where there is no stranding network in place), and also it will save researchers valuable time by having the data available in one place.
We need to help
To find solutions for whale and dolphin strandings, scientists need more data. One way to achieve this is the creation of an app that can catalog photos of stranded whales and dolphins, worldwide.
Funds raised for this project will be initially used for the creation of an app that will allow people to post photos of stranded whales and dolphins from anywhere in the world. Using GPS information from smartphones and other devices, we would be able to record the date and location of the stranded marine mammal. This database will then be made available and accessible to everyone.
Sound is one of the biggest problems for marine animals, and now sonar has conclusively been demonstrated to cause whales and dolphins to strand.
There are a variety of reasons why whales strand themselves, so the goal of this database is to learn as much as possible about human-caused strandings. Typically, these include loud noises produced by industrial practices, military exercises or research conducted in the cetaceans' habitat.
Whales and dolphins process sound as visual images -- so any loud bursts of sound caused by seismic oil exploration for example, is a multi-sensory overload for them. On just one ship, there can be 90 or more 200-300 decibel air guns firing simultaneously every 20 to 30 seconds, for months on end.
The effects of this sound can be profound on cetaceans and lead to blast type injuries or drastic alteration in dive behavior. Bleeding in the brain, ear canal, and melon (the forehead), is characteristic of whales and dolphins who beach themselves following exposure to loud sounds.
The continuous onslaught of sound can also make it difficult for family members to find other pod members in the din. This furthers the chance that pods will intermingle in assemblages not characteristic for them, or find themselves without a pod leader. There is even a chance that in attempting to escape the worst of the sound, dolphins and whales may flee to unfamiliar areas and find themselves lost.
Ocean noise pollution is of special concern for cetaceans, as they are highly dependent on sound as their principal sense. Sound travels very efficiently underwater, so the potential area impacted can be thousands of square kilometres or more.
The principal anthropogenic noise sources are underwater explosions (nuclear and otherwise), shipping, seismic exploration by mainly the oil and gas industries, and naval sonar operations.
Strandings and mortalities of especially beaked whales (family Ziphiidae) have in many cases been conclusively linked to noise events such as naval maneuvers involving tactical sonars or seismic surveys, though other cetacean species may also be involved. (The impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise on cetaceans and implications for management)
These bracelets are among the perks you can choose for contributing to this campaign. (Please see sidebar).
Who We Are
We are an informal group of scientists, advocates, and concerned individuals offering support, advice and guidance on the current threats faced by cetaceans.
Researcher: Candace Calloway Whiting possesses degrees in both marine mammal behavior and oceanography and writes frequently on cetaceans and their environments.
Editor: Elizabeth Batt is an environmental journalist with a passion for ocean preservation.
Social Media: Alex Dorer is the president of Fins and Fluke with a deep love for all things ocean-related.
Research: Kerry O'Brien is a volunteer marine mammal medic in New Zealand. Kerry has attended and assisted in marine mammal strandings.
IT/Development: Terran Vincent Baylor is a Systems Architect by trade who knows how computer systems works, how to get them connected, and how to best design them.
Once this project is completed, it will be turned over to an international, non-governmental group to manage.
Who They Are
Dolphins and whales are intelligent, benign, and sometimes irrepressible! We have learned that many species spend their lives together in family groups, and there are even documented cases of different species helping each other, as when these humpback whales tried to save a gray whale calf, or in this touching instance of sperm whales adopting a deformed dolphin:
To learn more about these incredible marine mammals visit the American Museum of Natural History website. If you are in the New York area, you might want to drop by and see the museum's interactive exhibit, "Whales, Giants of the Deep", where you can climb inside a model of the blue whale's heart!
Ways You Can Help
Share your ideas, energy, time, talent, resources - together we can establish a worldwide stranding network, and help researchers find solutions to this issue.