Posted by: The ocean update | June 4, 2015

Researchers Rule out Human Cause in Chile’s Mass Whale Beaching

This April 21, 2015 photo released by Vreni Haussermann shows sei whales beached on the southern coast of Gulf of Penas, Chile. About 20 whales have been found beached along Chile's southern coastline and officials say they are trying to determine what caused them to wind up on the beach. The International Union for Conservation of Natures lists the sei as an endangered species. (Vreni Haussermann, Huinay Scientific Field Station via AP) 

This April 21, 2015 photo released by Vreni Haussermann shows sei whales beached on the southern coast of Gulf of Penas, Chile. About 20 whales have been found beached along Chile’s southern coastline and officials say they are trying to determine what caused them to wind up on the beach. The International Union for Conservation of Natures lists the sei as an endangered species. (Vreni Haussermann, Huinay Scientific Field Station via AP)

June 4th, 2015. With human intervention excluded from possible causes of the death of 29 endangered whales in Chile, an investigation will continue. Preliminary investigations into the mass beaching of over 20 endangered whales on the southern coast of Chile have ruled out the possibility of direct human involvement in the whales’ death, Chile’s Radio Bio Bio reported Thursday. Last week, Chilean fisheries authorities launched an expedition with a team of national experts including scientists, environmental researchers, and marine professionals to investigate the mysterious whale die-off.

A group of foreign scientists found 29 dead sei whales, an internationally protected species, on Chile’s Gulf of Penas in April, marking the first time Chilean officials have recorded the endangered species beached along the country’s coastline.

“We hope that this expedition will be successful in the work of determining the causes of the beaching of these whales, an event that is being followed very closely by national experts and experts from all over the world,” said Mauricio Ulloa, head of the Animal Rescue Unit of the national fisheries service known as Sernapesca.

The expedition was expected to take at least a week with the possibility of delays depending on conditions at sea. With human intervention now ruled out, the investigation will continue to search for data that gives insight into the cause of the beaching. Sei whales became endangered after being hunted to near distinction in the mid-20th century. In 2008, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet extended an indefinite moratorium on sei whale hunting in line with international protections and declared the species a “natural monument.”

Update November 22th, 2015 : Chile whale stranding : 337 sei whales found dead off Patagonia ‘beyond the ordinary’ (link)

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