The main aim of the IndoCet stranding network is to connect researchers in the region and facilitate the building of a regional response network through sharing of resources and mutual support.
What are strandings?
Stranding events of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) can either be of individual animals or multiple animals simultaneously within a specific area. Animals are considered stranded when they are found alive or dead on the beach and are unable to return to the water. Live-stranded animals need professional assistance or even veterinary attention to return to their natural habitat. When two or more animals are stranded, it is usually referred to as a “mass stranding”- this can be of live and/or dead animals.
What can strandings tell us?
Strandings can provide scientists and managers with important information on the biology and health of marine mammals and, in turn, the health of our marine ecosystems. They provide basic information on the biology and ecology of marine mammal species, such as the animal’s range, age, reproductive status, the types of prey it consumes (diet), and even the occurrence of diseases within populations. In fact, some marine mammal species are known only from stranded specimens. Strandings also provide important information on human impacts to marine mammals. Data collected from stranded animals teach us about interactions between marine mammals and fisheries, vessels, or marine debris. Samples collected from stranded marine mammals also provide information on marine pollution. For example, a dolphin that may have high levels of chemical contaminants in their body could have direct implications for human health, as they consume many of the same fish that we do. Ultimately all the information gathered from these events help ensure the conservation of marine mammals from a population to a species level for future generations to enjoy.
How can a stranding network help?
By examining stranded marine mammals, stranding networks and their partners can better understand causes of mortality and factors that affect marine animal health. Other functions of stranding networks are to facilitate the humane care of the animals out of animal welfare concerns, assist in the recovery of protected species by returning them to the wild whenever possible, and help identify population threats and stressors of marine life, especially those that can be prevented or mitigated.
Link to resources for stranding network.