Are whale strandings linked to sunspots?

Could beached whales be linked to storms on the surface of the sun? In a recent study in Current Biology, researchers documented what may be a correlation between sunspots and gray whale strandings. If confirmed, the findings suggest that whales may use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate their 10,000-mile migrations. The sunspots are accompanied by solar radio frequency noise that may interfere with the whales’ navigation, researchers believe, or they may affect something in the whales’ physiology. Looking at an 11-year period, they found sunspot activity and gray whale strandings followed the same pattern. Researchers now plan to look at other whale species to see if they find similar correlations.

Read more in the New York Times.

Header Image: Researchers believe solar storms may interfere with gray whale navigation. ©Marc Webber/USFWS