Three minke whales have washed up dead on UK shores in recent days – one off the coast of Northern Ireland and the other two, unusually, off the cost of Norfolk. Strandings happen for many reasons and, unless the whale is examined soon after death, it is very difficult to find the cause. Errors in navigation may have led to these whales becoming trapped in shallower water, but illness can not be ruled out.
Some whales and dolphins come ashore after suffering injury from boat propellers or entanglement in fishing nets and gear. Nets and fishing gear are the biggest killer of whales and dolphins across the globe, causing terrible injury and typically death by suffocation. Noise from military exercises (using loud explosions or powerful sonar), or from exploration surveys at sea for oil and gas could also cause whales and dolphins to strand on the shoreline.