Cetacean Strandings & Collections
Studying marine mammal life history using dead animals
SWFSC responds to dead marine mammal strandings along the approximately 80 miles (125km) of coastline in San Diego, whereas Sea World responds to live marine mammal strandings in the area. Both organizations are members of the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is part of the broader national Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.
In San Diego County, marine mammal strandings are typically of single animals. Twenty-one different cetacean species have stranded along our beaches, although the most common to strand are long-beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, short-beaked common dolphins, and gray whales. The greatest number of strandings occur from March through June. Necropsies reveal the most common cause of death in stranded San Diego County cetaceans to be trauma, infectious disease, and domoic acid toxicosis. Several modalities are used to investigate strandings, which include radiology (computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging), histopathology, microbiology, and occasionally gas analysis.
How we investigate why animals strand
Cetacean Life History
Stranding data are critical to filling in missing parts of cetacean life history story
Visit this site to see what we collect and how tissues are used
Fishery Observer Program
Here we show how fishery observer data and collections provide additional life history data.