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Research Article

What Caused the UK's Largest Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) Mass Stranding Event?

  • Paul D. Jepson mail,

    paul.jepson@ioz.ac.uk

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Robert Deaville,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse,

    Affiliation: Unit for Basic and Applied Microbiology, School of Natural Sciences, Autonomous University of Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico

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  • James Barnett,

    Affiliation: Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Truro, Polwhele, Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom

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  • Andrew Brownlow,

    Affiliation: Scottish Agricultural College, Inverness, United Kingdom

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  • Robert L. Brownell Jr.,

    Affiliation: NOAA Fisheries, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Pacific Grove, California, United States of America

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  • Frances C. Clare,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Nick Davison,

    Affiliations: Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Truro, Polwhele, Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom, Scottish Agricultural College, Inverness, United Kingdom

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  • Robin J. Law,

    Affiliation: Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft, United Kingdom

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  • Jan Loveridge,

    Affiliation: Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network, Five Acres, Allet, Truro, United Kingdom

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  • Shaheed K. Macgregor,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Steven Morris,

    Affiliation: Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Weymouth, Dorset, United Kingdom

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  • Sinéad Murphy,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Rod Penrose,

    Affiliation: Marine Environmental Monitoring, Penwalk, Llechryd, Cardigan, Ceredigion, United Kingdom

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  • Matthew W. Perkins,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Eunice Pinn,

    Affiliation: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Aberdeen, United Kingdom

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  • Henrike Seibel,

    Affiliation: Institute of Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Büsum, Germany

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  • Ursula Siebert,

    Affiliation: Institute of Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Büsum, Germany

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  • Eva Sierra,

    Affiliation: Histology and Pathology Unit, Institute for Animal Health, Veterinary School Montana Cardones-Arucas, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria-Spain

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  • Victor Simpson,

    Affiliation: Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre, Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom

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  • Mark L. Tasker,

    Affiliation: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Aberdeen, United Kingdom

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  • Nick Tregenza,

    Affiliation: Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network, Five Acres, Allet, Truro, United Kingdom

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  • Andrew A. Cunningham,

    Affiliation: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, United Kingdom

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  • Antonio Fernández

    Affiliation: Histology and Pathology Unit, Institute for Animal Health, Veterinary School Montana Cardones-Arucas, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria-Spain

    X
  • Published: April 30, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060953

Reader Comments (2)

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the role of earthquakes in this stranding was not properly investigated

Posted by dwms07 on 07 May 2013 at 12:20 GMT

The authors ignored 4 moderate shallow-focus earthquakes that were likely responsible for this mass beaching.

The Seaquake Hypothesis advanced 25 years ago by the Deafwhale Society, one of the oldest marine mammal conservation groups in the world, suggests that potent infrasonic (~5 Hz) compression waves (seaquakes), generated above the epicenter of certain undersea earthquakes, can cause barotraumatic lesions in the sinuses, air sacs, and middle-ear air cavities of submerged whales and dolphins. Since healthy cranial air spaces are essential for both diving and the proper workings of the odontocete biosonar system, a pod of dolphins injured by a seaquake will find it difficult to dive and feed themselves and to echonavigate the open ocean. Such lost pods will swim downstream in the path of least resistance, stranding wherever the surface current guides them. This means that to locate the responsible earthquakes one must look UPSTREAM from the stranding beach, not downstream as was done in this study.

Had the authors looked upstream, they would have found the following dolphin-dangerous earthquakes had occurred within a known habitat for the stranded species:

quakes associated with UK common dolphin strandings
Comcat Search Beta - Results

DATE_TIME LAT LON DEP MAG MT SC Dist. Upstream
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2008-05-12 09:52:12.55 47.349N 27.309W 10.0 4.9 mb pde ~1,800 km
2008-05-11 21:01:07.22 47.342N 27.191W 10.0 4.7 mb pde ~1,800 km
2008-05-11 18:42:27.34 47.367N 27.341W 10.0 4.1 mb pde ~1,800 km
2008-05-06 08:47:10.87 53.475N 35.129W 10.0 5.2 mwc pde ~2,300 km

The most likely event was the 5.2 mag quake on May 06th; however, the cluster of 3 earthquakes on May 11 is highly suspicious.

Capt. David Williams, Chairman
Deafwhale Society, Inc.

No competing interests declared.