The mass beachings of sperm whales in countries around the North Sea last year could have been due to solar storms.
Twenty-nine sperm whales washed up on German, Dutch, French and British shores between January and February 2016.
This was surprising scientists after only 82 previous beaching of sperm whales had been documented since the 1990s.
The solar storms which create the Northern Lights phenomenon could also have caused the world’s magnetic field to shift by up to 460 km (286 miles) which would interfere with the whales’ sense of orientation.
That could explain why the whales swam into the relatively shallow North Sea rather than follow their traditional routes in the Atlantic where they would find it easier to correct their direction.
If whales enter the North Sea they cannot navigate back as it’s an unnatural environment for them and very shallow. However, if they were in the Atlantic then they could.