Toxins to blame for increased whale stranding? | The Jackal

23 Nov 2011

Toxins to blame for increased whale stranding?

Five days ago the Associated Press reported:
Rescuers have been unable to save the last surviving sperm whale from separate mass-strandings in Australia and New Zealand that have seen 91 whales die since the weekend. 
Though whale strandings are relatively common in both countries, the past few days have been particularly tough for conservation authorities. 
In all, 24 sperm whales and two minke whales died in a stranding on and around remote Ocean Beach in Tasmania. In an equally remote New Zealand location, the tip of Farewell Spit in the South Island, 65 pilot whales died.
...and on November 15, the Extinction Protocol reported:

Thirty-two pilot whales were confirmed dead today while the lives of 34 others hung in the balance after a mass stranding on tidal flats off New Zealand’s South Island. Department of Conservation’s area manager, Mr. Mason said the whales were stranded on the tidal flats at the tip of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, located nearly three kilometers offshore at the northern end of South Island. 
“There’s really nothing we can do for them so we just have to hope that they manage to get out by themselves,” Mr. Mason added. The deaths of the mammals follow the stranding in Australia’s island state of Tasmania over the weekend. Twenty-three sperm whales, up to 18 meters long, died after they became stuck on Ocean Beach, near Strahan, on Saturday.
So what is the reason for the increased stranding's?

There's also been an increase in stranding's closer to the MV Rena disaster, which is known to have released over 350 tonnes of heavy crude oil into the ocean. 3150 Litres of Corexit 9500 was also applied throughout the cleanup operation an23,240 kgs of Alkylsulphonic Acid was lost overboard.

23 October  2 Grey Beaked Whales dead, Mimiwhangata Beach & nearby bay, Northland. 
26 October  Two whales ~ a mother and juvenile, dead Whitianga Bay, Te Whanau a Apanui. 
28 October  One juvenile Greys beaked whale dead, Papamoa Beach ~ two adults re-floated. 
29 October  One juvenile pygmy sperm whale dead, Papamoa Beach. 
2   November  One whale dead (unconfirmed) Otarawaiwere Bay between Whakatane and Ohope. 
2 December One Sperm whale dead, Whangamata. 
Corexit spray paths - Rena oil spill

2004 dead oiled birds found so far, not counting those lost at sea.    
407 birds being cared for at the wildlife treatment and rehabilitation centre  
4 oiled little blue penguins   
336 clean little blue penguins  
1 clean fluttering shearwater, 3 pied shags
60 rare New Zealand dotterels pre-emptively caught and held.

Other Animals
40+  Seals dead on the East Coast. 
13    NZ Fur Seals reported dead as a result of "oil pollution" by Maritime NZ.