The issue of marine mammal beachings – where dolphins and whales end up on the shore – is a complex one. Even the most prominent marine experts have frequently been baffled as to the cause of these incidents, with the recent case of some beached pilot whales in Florida proving to be particularly confusing.

Some have theorized that a single whale or dolphin who gets into distress may cause the other members of their pod to beach as well, as these highly sociable animals will always seek to stay together.

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This thorny subject is explored in depth by “Out of the Blue,” a documentary which was originally released last year, and has now become available for purchase. The documentary was directed by Matt Stamm, an intern with the Oceanic Preservation Society, and produced by Cory Goodwin, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina, who state on their website:

Each year thousands of these animals wash up on U.S. coastlines. While natural causes account for many of these beachings, it is estimated that more than 50% of them are the result of human induced causes such as commercial fishing, vessel strikes, pollution, Navy sonar usage, and even gunshot wounds. Valiant efforts are made by marine mammal standing programs to rescue and rehabilitate these animals, but less than 1% of beached cetaceans survive.

Sadly, it appears that the problem of cetacean beaching is not going to go away anytime soon, but in the meantime, “Out of the Blue” is seeking to raise awareness of the issue and asks many challenging questions. The documentary has garnered many accolades since its initial release last year, including a “Best Student Film” award at the 15th Annual Gulf Coast Film & Video Festival and “Best Short Documentary” award at this summer’s San Diego IndieFest.

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What with the critical success of this documentary, as well as the seemingly unstoppable tour de force that is “Blackfish,” it looks as though the world is finally beginning to wake up to the grim realities being faced by so many of our cetacean friends. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, Green Monsters!

Check out the film trailer below:

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