Published on: February 21, 2023

Whale stranding

Whale stranding

Why in news? Earlier in February, 14 pilot whales were stranded near the shore of Kalpitiya, a town located on Sri Lanka’s west coast.


  • Apart from Sri Lanka, Australia’s Tasmania has also seen mass beaching of whales.

What is whale stranding and why does it happen?

  • Whale stranding is a phenomenon in which whales are stuck on land, usually on a beach. Other aquatic animals like dolphins and porpoises are also known to beach. Most of the stranding events involve single animals but sometimes, mass strandings, consisting of hundreds of marine animals at a time, can happen.
  • Although mass strandings have been occurring since the times of Aristotle — back then, they were considered a gift from the gods as the stranded whales and dolphins were a rich source of food and oil — experts don’t know exactly why they take place.

Causes for whale strandings:

  • Deterioration of ocean health due to human interference.
  • One of the prime reasons for such incidents could be an increase in noise pollution in the oceans.
  • According to a report published by Mongabay, the latest whale beaching event in Sri Lanka might have been caused due to the “recent seismic activity in the Indian Ocean”.
  • Several studies have shown that noise from large commercial ships, military sonars or offshore drilling severely impacts whales’ and other marine animals’ ability to use sound to navigate, find food and protect themselves. This can drive them ashore by deafening, disorienting, or frightening them.

Can mass strandings be prevented?

  • It’s very difficult to prevent them. However, “taking more care of our actions in the ocean to try and minimise human activities which might impact marine life” might help reduce the chances of such incidents