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Oceanic and Atmospheric Correlations to Cetacean Mass Stranding Events in Cape Cod Massachusetts, USA
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  • Ron Zellar,
  • Antti Aleksi Pulkkinen,
  • Katie Moore,
  • Cecile Severine Rousseaux,
  • Desray Reeb
Ron Zellar
Goddard Space Flight Center

Corresponding Author:ron.zellar@nasa.gov

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Antti Aleksi Pulkkinen
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Katie Moore
International Fund for Animal Welfare
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Cecile Severine Rousseaux
Universities Space Research Association
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Desray Reeb
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
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Groups of pelagic dolphins and whales (order cetacea) regularly strand on beaches throughout the world and are referred to as mass stranding events (MSEs). MSEs have been observed for centuries, however the underlying causes remain unclear. We investigated possible connections between MSEs in Cape Cod Massachusetts, USA, and regional wind and ocean currents. The seasonal MSE distribution is strongly correlated to both wind and ocean current strengths, and correlation is maximized when MSEs are compared to environmental data one month in the past. Furthermore, a superposed epoch analysis (a Chree analysis) indicates significant shifts in ocean current strength for months surrounding MSEs. These results may indicate that atmospheric and oceanic effects are possible underlying factors influencing MSEs. These factors could generate environments conducive for prey assemblages that attract cetaceans, or perhaps by driving seasonal production of prey species.
28 Oct 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 20. 10.1029/2021GL093697