Numerous reasons are known as to why marine mammals strand, however, unfortunately it would seem the case that human activity is be a key contributor to these deaths. Data has been collected by the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation ranging from 1994 to the present day, incorporating factors such as seasonality, cause of death, condition of corpse, anatomical characteristics, morphological characteristics, sex, age class and reproduction status.
This study ultimately aims to comparatively analyse the current 23 years of stranding data and to identify the significance of anthropogenic activity on the occurrence of stranding events. Furthermore, the project works towards suggestions to implement measures which could mitigate strandings reoccurring in the future. It is also anticipated that the study will incorporate statistics software for the development of a spatiotemporal prediction model for future stranding events.
In terms of suggestions for conservation, we primarily hope to identify factors showing correlations between stranding events and boat activities. With the stranding database being utilised in this way, not only will we know about the actual stranding event, but also be able to use this information to create mitigation from strandings occurring in the future.
Data collected, taken from land and boat surveys, or other anthropological influences is furthermore used to push towards the implementation of efficient conservation measures for these important marine species. The Archipelagos Marine Mammal Research Team is constantly working towards raising awareness by informing and communicating with the public on the importance of stranding data in order to accomplish the conservation efforts we are enforcing for on a daily basis.
Clemency M. Carroll
Second Year, BSc Ecology and Wildlife Conservation, Bournemouth University, UK.