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Can Data from Space Save Dolphins?

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 Astronomy   |   Biology   |   Science
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The age-old mystery of why otherwise healthy dolphins, whales and porpoises get stranded along coasts worldwide deepens: After a collaboration between NASA scientists and marine biologists, new research suggests space weather is not the primary cause of animal beachings — but the research continues. The collaboration is now seeking others to join their search for the factors that send ocean mammals off course, in the hopes of perhaps one day predicting strandings before they happen.

Scientist have long sought the answer to why such animals get beached, and one recent collaboration hoped to find a clear cut solution: Scientists from a cross-section of fields pooled massive data sets to see if disturbances to the magnetic field around Earth could be what confuses these sea creatures, known as cetaceans.

Cetaceans are thought to use Earth's magnetic field to navigate. Since intense solar storms can disturb the magnetic field, the scientists wanted to determine whether they could, by extension, actually interfere with animals' internal compasses and lead them astray.

During this first attempt, the scientists -- from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the International Fund for Animal Welfare, or IFAW; and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM -- were not able to hammer down a causal connection.

Now, the team is opening their study up much wider: They're asking other scientists to participate in their work and contribute data to the search for the complex set of causes for such strandings.

Read the story: https://www.nasa.gov/beachings

Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein/Scott Wiessinger

Music:
Long Travels - Boris Nonte, Gregg Lehrman
Spiritual Migration - Giles Robert Lamb
Crystal Sound Bath - James Alexander Dorman
The Space Between - Max Concors
Inducing Waves - Ben Niblett, Jon Cotton
Enchanted - Gregg Lehrman, Boris Nonte, Daniel Louis Walter
Read the story at www.nasa.gov/beachings
For more information on t he ongoing project, visit: http://spaceweathercenter.cua.edu/strandings-project.cfm
Footage of marine mammal strandings provided by The International Fund for Animal Welfare.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12700

If you liked this video, subscribe to the NASA Goddard YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/NASAExplorer

Or subscribe to NASA’s Goddard Shorts HD Podcast: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/iTunes/f0004_index.html

Follow NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NASA.GSFC
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