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Whales are Dying — Why?



by Dee McLachlan

It just happens I am writing a movie action script on whales at the moment.  So I am alarmed to see that 416 pilot whales beached themselves overnight at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island, New Zealand.

More than 70% have died, with locals desperately trying to save the remaining.

In the many reports I have read and heard so far, there is little talk as to the cause. There seems to be a general acceptance that this is just what happens.

Historical Records

Allegedly, there are records of beached whales going back to 300 BC. But scientists seem to agree that whale strandings appear to be occurring more frequently and in larger numbers than previously known.

This stranding makes it the third largest in New Zealand’s recorded history.

450 whales were stranded at Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland in 1985, and back in 1918, 1,000 whales beached themselves on the Chatham Islands.

Why does New Zealand have one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world? 5,000 since 1840.


The reasons for whale strandings are still unclear. Some marine biologists point to chemicals and pollution, such as plastic. But this does not really explain mass strandings.

When it is an individual case, it could be a combination of factors: age, sickness or injury. In the case of one or two beached dolphins, it may be that they were trying to escape a predator, such as an orca (killer whale).

Many species of cetaceans travel in large pods. So what’s the explanation for mass beachings?

Navigational errors? Cetaceans use echolocation for hunting and navigation, and they are particularly vulnerable to sound.

Sound, Sonar Testing and Echolocation

The US Navy uses sonar and also tests explosives under water. And the very high levels of sound used can harm the hearing and the ability to echo-locate.

A deaf whale that can’t hunt is a dead whale.

It is possible that older leaders with hearing loss have led the pods astray.

The US Navy and the National Marine Fisheries Service, released a report acknowledging that the Navy’s experimental sonar played a role in the deaths of 17 marine mammals in the Bahamas in 2000.

sonarThe effects of sound

In 2012, thousands of dead dolphins off Peru were blamed on the sonar blasts used by firms to find oil under the sea.

Brenda Petterson in the Huffington Post wrote (in “Killing With Sound”) that:

“There are no noise-cancelling headphones to stop the U.S. Navy’s 235-decibel pressure waves of unbearable pinging and metallic shrieking. At 200 Db, the vibrations can rupture your lungs, and above 210 Db, the lethal noise can bore straight through your brain until it hemorrhages that delicate tissue.

“The collateral damage of this high-intensity military sonar is shocking. But because all these millions of dying whales or dolphins are too often out of human sight, they’re also out of mind.” [except for those few strandings]

I wonder what techniques were being used to explore the seabed in the search for MH370?

Undersea Mining

Recently exploration companies have started to explore the seabed for oil and minerals.

Under the ocean’s waves there is a treasure trove of rich gold, copper, zinc, and other valuable minerals. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA), the deep sea contains four kilograms of mineable gold for every person on Earth.

$150 Trillion worth.

Earth’s real mining boom hasn’t even begun. And you can bet those companies don’t give a damn for life on earth.

Photo credits: Daily Express, www.collective-evolution.com


    • Sorry, Dee, if we be seen to not be serious enuf re the whales, but I just saw this on Dailymail.co.uk:

      “The youth wing of the Swedish Liberal party has filed a motion to legalize necrophilia and incest.
      Liberal Youth of Sweden said that just because it is ‘viewed as unusual and disgusting’, does not mean that the deprived [sic] sexual acts should be illegal.
      They want to legalize sex between two consenting siblings over the age of 15, and sex with a corpse if there is a written permission made before the person died.”

      Well, that takes care of that, I guess.

    • Don, warships perennially stationed around the beautiful Hawaiian islands have driven the natives to an appropriately angry state.

      In the case of Dee’s essay, it is good to know that animal rightsers are generally more keyed up than human rightsers. So we may see more counteraction here.

      Will some of the whales be autopsied? Then we’ll know that it wasn’t poison, or whatever.

      I like “a deaf whale is a dead whale.” How about “a lazy human species is a dead human species”?

      • I am touched by animal rights groups, I have taken out a subscription to Animal’s Australia, after the 4 corners expose, as industrial slaughter gathers pace the animals are no longer a sacred living creature but a McDonald’s or a corporate item for profit on the balance sheet.
        As we move into the conveyor belt of human production, some may ask whats going on? with diminishing resources every mouth needs more energy? as we witness the transition from a sort of innocence to the maturing? of this fruit and as the and so on mind then becomes settled as to who needs to be maimed, killed? for the ideology, some of us need more info as the Mothers and Fathers that brought this bundle of joy into the world and little do I know anything about say Hitlers or Trumps parents are? although I think Trumps Father gave him 15 million dollars to get started.
        Overall the human race to me seems a motley lot and it is curious why to me they got born, I think I was born because it was seen that you have to have a family of three at some time in British history and also not long ago a deputy Australian prime Minister said two for replacement and one for the country? is the last one meant as a sacrifice to the Queen is it? to be a dead hero.

  1. Don,interesting thought! Mary good idea about autopsies but do we get an honest result?

    Scientists (?) these days seem to be a marketable commodity. Look at the statements like ” radiation from Fukushima is no danger to the world,” or man-made carbon is creating the warming of the world which leads to climate change.” or my scientist contact from Tasmania who states “there is no scientific connection of climate change to sunspot activity”.

    Getting back to the article, it appears to me that there are more frequent pilot whale beachings that other whale species. If this is true, why?

  2. Dolphins and Whales have the highest intellect of all creatures , but are also highly stressed . Having to come up for air every few minutes makes for very little sleep and recovery for our dear friends . That is probably why their average lifespans are about 30 years . Being very sensitive to what is happening to the world around them may cause depression and with stress is a possible reason for their mass suicides on the beaches .

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