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CDU EXPERT: Whale beachings can provide key information on ocean health and larger environmental issues, expert says

Charles Darwin University (CDU) 2 mins read

26 July 2023

Over 60 pilot whales have beached themselves on Cheynes beach East of Albany in Western Australia in the last few days. According to Charles Darwin University, Senior Research Associate, Dr Carol Palmer understanding and investigating the causes of cetacean strandings is critical in understanding ocean health and larger environmental issues. 


Dr Carol Palmer, Senior Research Associate, Cetaceans & Marine Megafauna at Charles Darwin University (CDU)  

Contact details: Call +61 8 8946 6529 or email to arrange an interview.

Quotes attributable to Dr Palmer:

“There may be different causes for whales and dolphins to strand on beaches, either dead or alive.”

“Understanding and investigating the causes of cetaceans strandings is critical because they can be indicators of ocean health, can help identify anthropogenic sources of disturbance, and can give insights into larger environmental issues that may also have implications for human health.”

“Based on risk assessments globally, dolphin and whale populations could be facing a range of threats including, climate change, habitat loss, interactions with commercial fisheries and physical and acoustic disturbance caused by increasing boating and shipping traffic.”

“It is becoming increasingly important that injured and stranded dolphins and whales are reported.”

“Here in the NT, we are reliant on Traditional Owners and Sea Rangers in the extensive remote areas to be trained, so that strandings and injuries can be reported and will be collective with Citizen Science.”

“The Northern Territory coastline is over 10,000 km in length and includes offshore islands and extensive areas of sandy beaches, mangroves, estuaries, tidal rivers, and amazing rocky headlands.”

“The NT Sea country is very remote and dolphin and whale strandings have been recorded but not in huge numbers unlike the recent Long-finned Pilot Whales in WA.”

“Apart from the Darwin region, the recording of stranded dolphins and whales is low and is due to the remoteness, small human populations, difficult communications and minor funding related to scientific investigations.”

“Also, based on logistics it is extremely difficult to recover / salvage stranded dolphins and whales in remote locations based across the NT.”   

“Currently there has been no live survival of dolphins or whales in the NT recorded. Once they have stranded, all have passed away or washed up on the beach dead.”

Contact details:

Emily Bostock
Acting Research Communications Officer
T: +61 8 8946 6529
M: 0432 417 518

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