It was just another day at the beach--or so it seemed till dozens of dolphins suddenly swam in with the surf and got stranded in the sandy shallows. The dramatic video of the stranding in the Brazilian town of Arraial do Cabo--now a YouTube sensation--shows humans rushing to help their fellow mammals, pushing and pulling hard to help the animals reach deeper water.
Were the dolphins saved? To find out, you'll have to view the video. But what would lead seemingly healthy dolphins to swim onto shore? And what causes similar strandings of whales and other animals?
"There is no single answer for marine mammal strandings, just as there is no single answer for what causes car crashes or traffic jams," Dr. Darlene R. Ketten, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., told The Huffington Post in an email. After viewing the video, she speculated that "the pod may have been feeding very close to shore and then were caught in a strong current or wave area and pushed onto shore by the water...We do see feeding groups getting caught in the shallows in situations similar to this in many locations, and the tendency varies by species, seasons, and circumstances."
Strandings of dolphins and whales are more common than is commonly realized, according to Dr. Ketten--with 1,000 or so animals a year stranding themselves in U.S. coastal waters. Statistics show frequent strandings among seals and turtles as well as marine mammals.
Dr. Ketten commended the people who tried to save the dolphins, pointing out that handing dolphins can be risky for both species--especially when the animals thrash wildly, as they do in the video. Overall, she said, it was certainly no "day at the beach."