Technically a dolphin and not a whale, the Short-Finned Pilot Whale is the second largest dolphin in the world behind the killer whale. Able to dive for up to 15 minutes at a time, the short-finned pilot whale relies on echolocation to hunt, travel and communicate. Several mass strandings of short-finned pilot whales in 2013 and 2014 in Florida have left researchers perplexed. While there was no clear reason for the beach strandings, which killed dozens of whales, other similar strandings in other parts of the world have been directly linked to underwater sonar tests being conducted by the U.S. Navy and ExxonMobil.
Using echolocation, whales are able to use sound to understand their environment and, just as importantly, when to avoid predators. The bombardment of sound from sonar equipment would be similar be deafening and would clearly indicate a huge predator approaching, which is why the mass strandings occur: the short-finned pilot whales stranded in Florida were either so confused or so afraid of what they thought was a predator that they swam onto shore and suffocated, unable to breath out of the water.