Whale beaching, more accurately called Cetacean Stranding is the phenomenon in which cetaceans strand themselves on land (generally beaches). This topic can be asked under the subject Environment & Ecology of General Studies-3 of UPSC Mains of the IAS Exam.
What is Whale Beaching?
Cetaceans are aquatic mammals and include whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Cetaceans that land on beaches generally die of dehydration or other causes like drowning when a high tide shuts their blowhole; or collapsing under their own weight. The reason for such behavior has not been established to an accurate degree. Removing such carcasses becomes a tricky affair since they are generally huge and the decomposing corpses pose a health risk.
To get details on UPSC Environment and Ecology, candidates may check the linked article.
Why Do Whales Get Beached?
The reason for the behavior though has not been established but there are a few factors which can be understood:
|Confusion due to man-made Sonar:||
|Poison from various aquatic species||
|Changes or abnormalities in the earth’s magnetic field||
|Changes in the weather and ocean caused by global warming||
|“Follow-me” stranding or Intentional||
Also, read UPSC Tips for Environment & Biodiversity in the linked article.
Whale Beaching-Disposal & Health Risks
The task of disposing of the carcasses of whales is a tedious and complicated task:
- If a whale is beached near an inhabited locality, the rotting carcass can pose a nuisance as well as a health risk.
- Such very large corpses are difficult to move.
- The whales are often towed back out to sea away from shipping lanes, allowing them to decompose naturally, or they are towed out to sea and blown up with explosives.
A beached whale carcass should not be consumed as it causes health risks. Consuming meat from a beached whale can cause botulism and should not be done.