Beaching/stranding Research
 

This research focuses on dead or live individuals in terminal condition, washed on or reaching the shore, respectively. Other than species identification, a wealth of other information may be obtained, including:

 

  1. Distribution - the location (GPS) of live individuals or fresh carcasses washed ashore or trapped in near-shore fishing nets provide us with information regarding species distribution. Decomposed carcasses, on the other hand, may have been drifting at sea for a long while and from distant areas and therefore provide less accurate data.

  2. Seasonality beaching dates may indicate seasonal distribution, seasonal causes of death etc.

 

  1. Morphometry Determining sex and age, measuring weight and subcutaneous blubber layer thickness and taking external measurements of beached specimens provide a data base from which growth curves (length and weight vs. age) for both sexes may be constructed. This data base can also address the morphological homogeneity of the population and life span tables. Determining sex and standard measurements and evaluations on carcasses are rather simple. Determining the accurate age requires the extraction of a tooth, sectioning it longitudinally and staining the surface. Age is then determined by counting "annual growth layers" revealed by the cut (similar to dendrochronology - determining age in trees).

 

  1. Tissue sampling tissue samples are taken for genetic signature analysis, stable isotope composition analysis (which together with that of potential prey can provide insights regarding predator-prey associations and foraging sites) as well as contamination levels with heavy metals and organic pollutants.

 

  1. Cause of death - meticulous post mortem analysis is carried out in order to determine whether death was induced by man-made causes such as: by-catch in fishing gear, shock wave injuries, viral infections that may be due to an immune system weakened by contaminants or blocked stomach due to swallowed plastic waste.

 

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