10 November 2017 Science answers Sminky’s burning question - why do whales beach themselves - navigational errors, rough weather, birthing issues, illness or injury!

As Sminky’s video shows, researchers have also discovered that killer whales sometimes deliberately beach themselves as a hunting technique to catch basking seals.

Of course, according to science, killer whales aren’t really whales at all – they are actually members of the dolphin family!

Dr. Mark Jessopp, researcher with MaREI Research Centre based in Cork says: “Killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family and were given the name ‘killer whale’ by ancient sailors who observed them hunting larger whale species.  They originally called them “whale killer” but this later became flipped to the now familiar ‘killer whale’.

Mark recently returned from Svalbard, in Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle, where he spent time as on board the Quark Expeditions ship as an ‘expert in residence’ programme where researchers are provided berths on ships and logistic support to do science. Mark studies the diet and habitat use of top predators (seabirds and seals), and interactions with fisheries, renewable energy installations, and offshore oil & gas.

Check out Sminky’s #StopAndAsk video below:

Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland said: “Science Week is a brilliant opportunity to explore the world of science and technology that surrounds us all, and is playing an increasing role in our lives.  Science helps us to ask and answer the questions, solve the problems and to consider what is next.

“This Science Week, we want as many people as possible to get involved and ask the questions that matter to them - the questions that have always made them curious!  We’re calling on everyone to take part in the #StopAndAsk conversation and to attend the events taking place in your county, or nationwide.”

Hundreds of events are being held nationwide to celebrate Science Week from the 12th to the 19th of November. For a full list of the thrilling science shows, hands-on workshops and talks across the country, visit our events page.

Join the #StopAndAsk conversation on social media using #StopAndAsk and watch out for science all around you!