An international investigation into the strandings of thirty sperm whales in the southern North Sea in 2016 has concluded that the event most probably occurred due to a combination of several complex environmental factors, rather than any single factor. Lead author Lonneke IJsseldijk, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: “We found no evidence of manmade trauma”. The findings were published yesterday, 8 August 2018 in PLOS ONE.
The whales became stranded across five countries over a period of six weeks in early 2016, after entering the southern North Sea where the water becomes progressively shallower – a known global hotspot for sperm whale strandings.
Twenty-seven sperm whales examined
Teams of international scientists and experts from around Europe came together to investigate this event including Utrecht University, ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover.Twenty-seven of the thirty sperm whales were examined during the investigation. The animals investigated were all young subadult males aged between 10 and 16 years old. Dietary studies revealed that the animals had likely foraged for the last time in Norwegian waters, at least 1300 kilometers away.