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WHY WHALES STRAND! By Capt. David Williams BSc, MSc Deafwhale Society (the oldest whale conservation group in the world) Watch the video below. Notice that the announcer closes by asking: “What might have disoriented them?” Pods of toothed whales (odontocete) orient themselves by using the most advanced echo-navigation and echo-location system the world has ever known. This means the NatGeo announcer is asking what might have caused bio-sonar failure in an entire pod at the same time? Why does bio-sonar fail? To understand, we must first tell you that all odontocete hear naturally in full stereo. This means if they lose hearing in only one ear, they lose their acoustic sense of direction along with their ability to echo locate their food. And since all of their fresh water comes from the fish and squid they eat. This means we should expect that all pods of beached toothed whales will arrive at the beach dehydrated with no fresh food in their stomachs. As it turns out, dehydration and no fresh stomach contents are the two most common findings in beached whales. We also need to figure out which way a pod of odontocete will swim if each member is deaf in one ear? There is only one answer. Acoustically impaired toothed whales will always swim downstream in the path of least resistance. The hydrodynamic drag force guides them downstream. This is the same force exerted by the flow of the water against the upstream motion of a swimmer. It increases the faster one swims against a current. It disappears if one swims downstream. If non-navigating whales turn and swim against the flow, the current quickly turns their streamlines bodies and points them downstream in the path of least drag. Everything going downstream with the current usually ends up on a sandy beach because the current directing their swim path is the same energy that builds beaches. This leads us to wonder if some kind of pressure-related diving accident might have disabled their stereographic hearing.

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