Today overall mood became more hopeful that these whales may return to their home range - 35 total team members, 15 boats, 2 planes It's difficult to tell exactly why strandings like this one happen, because there are a lot of factors involved. But Darlene Ketten, a neuroethologist and expert on hearing in marine mammals at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, explained some of the possible drivers to Scientific American:
Statistically, we are only able to determine the cause of a stranding in about 50 percent of all cases worldwide. In some cases it is obvious, like a ship strike leaving an animal in poor condition. In the northeastern United States pneumonia is a common cause of stranding. We see other diseases and trauma, such as shark attack on whales or dolphins or attacks by members of the same species. Poisonous "red tides" will also affect marine mammals. Some strandings have been speculated to be related to anomalies in the magnetic field.
24 whales unaccounted for - hard to say where they are, encouraging that they can't be located - hoping they are out to sea, but not certain- NOAA Fish Southeast (@NOAAFish_SERO) December 6, 2013
Stay tuned, we will update this post as the story develops.