Theses and Dissertations

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.

Defense Date

4-2003

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Edward O. Keith

Second Advisor

Daniel Odell

Third Advisor

Alexander Yankovsky

Abstract

The occurrence of stranded cetaceans has been of interest since Aristotle and numerous theories have been advanced to explain stranding phenomena. The causes(s) of mass strandings remain unresolved, but recent investigations suggest the importance of environmental rather than biological aspects. Little emphasis has been placed on the importance of seasonal fluctuations in the number of mass strandings. Stranding data for the past 20 years in Florida, collected by the Southeastern U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network, show a peak in mass strandings on the Florida east coast during the winter and spring and on the Florida west coast and Keys during the summer and fall. The infrequency of mass strandings suggests that a number of factors must coexist for a stranding to occur. Correlations were found between downwelling-favorable wind conditions and stranding events. Seasonal variations in wind speed and direction create frontal convergences in the ocean environment, which can be tracked by cetaceans. Such wind induced physical oceanographic changes, if followed by cetaceans, may explain why species move from the shelf-break to the near shore environment. In addition, strandings are more likely to occur on beaches that slope gently until a point of more rapid drop-off, allowing deep water to be located nearshore. This analysis suggests that the prevailing winds and high relief areas located close to shore are important factors in the initial stages of a stranding due to their causative effect on frontal structures the week prior to an event.

To access this thesis/dissertation you must have a valid nova.edu OR mynsu.nova.edu email address and create an account for NSUWorks.

Free My Thesis

If you are the author of this work and would like to grant permission to make it openly accessible to all, please click the Free My Thesis button.

Share

COinS