BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of scientists just advances a new theory as to why whole pods of whales beach and strand themselves on the coastlines of the world. Now, they suggest that this impulse may be less tied to the planet itself, and more to the Sun and the same phenomenon which leads to the appearance of the Aurora Borealis.
Sperm Whales Stranded in 2016 Confused by a Solar Flare
Scientists led by the Klaus Vanselow, a physicist with the University of Kiel, Germany, are behind this new study. According to the team, the mass stranding of almost 30 sperm whales might be linked to two major solar storms.
The mass stranding, which occurred on European shores, took place in January 2016, a mere weeks after two major solar events from December 2015. As the researchers suggest, the timing of these two events might not be a coincidence.
Powerful solar storms are known for expulsing CMEs or coronal mass ejections. These are large volumes of radiation, plasma, and high-energy particles. Eventually, these collide with the magnetic field of the Earth and lead to aurora borealis.
They can also give rise to geomagnetic storms or disruptions in the magnetic field. In turn, this can cause wide-ranging shifts in the magnetic field structures’ position.
The team calculated that, during the December 2015 pair of solar storms, these shifts exceeded 286 miles in the regions around the Norwegian Channel. Researchers then corroborated these results with a standing theory.
This suggests that sperm whales, and other whales and marine animals, in general, use the magnetic field of the Earth as a reference point in navigating themselves.
Based on this, the team suggests that the group of sperm whales that got beached in January 2016 had been severely confused by the December 2015 magnetic disruptions.
“Sperm whales are very huge animals and swim in the free ocean, so if they are disrupted by this effect, they can swim in the wrong direction for days and then correct it,” stated Vanselow.
However, he continues by pointing out swimming in the wrong direction in between Scotland and Norway, even for just a couple of day, would make it too late for the whales to turn back.
While there is no certain way of proving the results of the study, this is not the first research to point towards a possible link between these two types of events.
Current study results are available in a paper in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
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