Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

5-13-2013

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

James D. Thomas

Second Advisor

Daniel K. Odell

Third Advisor

Patrick Hardigan

Abstract

Marine mammal mass strandings have been documented for centuries, even going as far back as Aristotle. For just as long, the causes of these mass strandings have been questioned. With every species of cetacean known to have stranded, it is important to find trends to understand and prevent these strandings from occurring. With a heightened awareness of this issue, leading to the creation of marine mammal stranding networks throughout the United States in the 1990s, a more comprehensive approach to data collection has helped with the study. Issues such as seasonality, weather, topography, and disease have all been observed as a potential cause of these events. This study attempted to look at the Atlantic Coast of the United States, and its documented mass strandings from 1997-2011. Stranding data taken from the Northeast and Southeast US Marine Mammal stranding network database provided a basis for the study of these mass strandings. Many of the possible causes of these strandings, including seasonality, location, and species were studied. There was some correlation found between seasons and stranding, meaning there are certain times of the year when a cetacean pod may be more likely to strand.

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