This is an impressive view of an army of Portuguese trying to push a beached sperm whale near Lisbon Portugal back into deep water. The suggestion is that the whale’s inability to make deep dives caused by barotrauma (exploded ear drums) might have caused this disaster. Navy sonar experiments or underwater volcanic explosions might have done the damage. We don’t know but we hope this big gentle giant can reunite with his pod! The video via @portugalforeels.
Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.
There are numerous possible reasons why a whale may be beached. It may be due to sickness or injury, bad weather, navigation errors or old age (senility). Apparently toothed whales (e.g., sperm whale) are the most commonly affected. Collisions with boating may cause injuries which can lead to beaching. It may be pollution, perhaps plastic or noise pollution which causes it. It may be that the whale has found themselves in water which is too shallow, they become exhausted and can no longer swim and are eventually washed ashore. Sometimes mass beachings occur because whales are family-oriented. When a whale is beached their internal organs become compressed and they stop breathing because the solid surface of land cannot support their chest walls.
Another reason is that a whale is starved due to a lack food. This may force them to stop moving to conserve energy and they then drift along with the currents instead of swimming. They confine themselves to close to shore without realising it and become beached. They may be forced ashore by predators sometimes. Naturally occurring toxins such as from microscopic algae affects all marine wildlife including whales, in part because the marine food chain is affected which results in less available food for whales to consume.
It should be pointed out that entanglement in fishing lines is the most common human cause of death for whales. Whales in the North Atlantic Ocean are particularly exposed to being hit by a passing ship.
Mass strandings are not fully understood by the experts. Indeed, I don’t think we know precisely why whales do end up on the beach on an individual-by-individual basis.
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, whales stranded on a beach can die because of toxins building up in their body due to reduced circulation. These toxins poison and kill the animal. The thick blubber can cause the whale to overheat as the are no longer cooled down by the oceans. The blowhole may be filled with water at high tide which means they can’t breathe and effectively drown. Sadly, survival rates are low for the reason stated and because it is very hard to get a whale off a beach safely and without harming the animal.
Below are some more articles on whales.