by Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society, Inc.
download latest scientific article: www.deafwhale.com/2013-science-article.pdf
The seaquake theory to the centuries-old mystery of why whales mass beach themselves is the originally creation of Captain David W. Williams and registered with the Writer's Guild of America—Reg. No: 10608118 (see copyright below).
SOLUTIONS TO RECENT STRANDINGS: World's Rarest Whale Dec 2010 King Island Nov 2012 Andaman Islands Oct 2012 New Zealand Oct 2012 Scotland Sept 2012 Florida Sept 2012 Cape Verde Aug 2012 Florida Dec 2013 Farewell Spit Jan 2014 Farewell Spit Jan 2014 Florida Jan 2014 mass stranding predicted Cape Cod Feb 2014 New Zealand Feb 2014 Kuwait Mar 2014 Cape Cod mass stranding prediction comes true Newfoundland mass stranding 16 Mar 2014 Bay of Plenty mass stranding Nov. 2014 pilot whales beach near Essex, UK Nov, 2014 sperm whales beached Golden Bay Nov. 2014 sperm whales beach South Australia Dec., 2014
"Whales do not die because they are stranded; they are stranded because they are dying! Pushing ill or injured whales back out into deep water is feeding sharks, not rescuing whales. We must know why whales beach themselves if we expect to save them."
Capt. David Williams, Deafwhale Society, Inc.
SOLVING THE MYSTERY REQUIRES COMMON SENSEPods of whales and dolphins are obviously disorientated when they swim into a beach. Necropsies show they are seriously dehydrated and their stomachs contain only indigestible squid beaks and fish eyes. Since they use sound to navigate and find their food, such factual findings should cause whale scientists to suspect something had caused their biosonar system to fail. Obviously, if their echonavigation and echolocation is not working, they would not be able to hunt the fish and squid they eat so their stomachs would be empty of fresh food. Nor would they be able to find their way around. Instead of staying in their normal offshore environment, they would swim downstream in the path of least drag. Surface currents build beaches so non-navigating pods would likely be guided to sandy areas. Furthermore, since all their fresh water comes from their food, they would indeed become seriously dehydrated.This is not rocket science -- it's common sense. All the clues at the beach point to an injury that has disabled their amazing biosonar system. Even when the rescue teams push stranded whales back out to sea, they must do so when the tide is falling and the surface currents are flowing away from the beach. Never can these groups "rescue" a beached whale when the surface flow is directed inshore.THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT NAVIGATING!They look healthy on the outside and there's no indication that their cochleas are destroyed. The only other injury that could knock out their biosonar system is barosinusitis -- the most common injury in human divers. The reason barosinusitis would disable biosonar is because the air contained in the whales' sinuses and air sacs serves to reflect, focus, and channel returning echo clicks in such a fashion to enable echolocation and echonavigation. Said differently, before their biosonar system will work, returning echoes must be bounce and channeled inside their heads by the air contained in their cranial air spaces. Barosinusitis disables biosonar and is far more dangerous to diving whales than deafness because it occurs at much lower frequencies and intensities.Barosinusitis is exactly why navy sonar causes whales to beach themselves, but don't expect the Navy to admit it.Furthermore, whale scientists have never ruled out barosinusitis, the most common injury in human divers. In fact, whales scientists ignore barosinusitis as if the US Navy and oil industry had labeled it as a taboo topic! These two groups contribute 97% of all the money spent worldwide on whale research so the scientists know that had better tow the Navy line or they don't get a thin dime. Bottom line -- our whale scientists are participating in a massive world-wide cover-up.I have a book coming out in a few months that will blow the led off the entire nasty mess. It contains shocking evidence that will show you why and how the whale scientists are lying. The working title is US NAVY COVER-UP. Send me an email if you want to be notified when the book is ready to ship. The price will be as cheap as possible and all the proceeds will be spent researching whales. And, if you don't like what you read, I'll gladly refund all your money.Why should you believe me? I'm a 73-year-old retired sea captain who has worked on solving the mystery of whale beachings for over 40 years. I have observed more than a thousand pods at sea. I have been to a hundred whale beachings. Read every scientific report written about why whales and dolphins strand themselves. I know the ways of the ocean first hand. I almost lost my life in a seaquake in 1977 while off the coast of Puerto Rico -- I know what seismic sea shocks feel like. My non-profit group has never ask for a dime from anyone. We seek only truth. And I love whales and want to do my part to see that the whale scientists stop lying to the whale-loving public. Please help me by buying my book.Now for the truth on why whales beach themselves:
The sudden force that causes the rocky seabed to jerk about during and undersea earthquakes (EQs) is not a massive single blow, but a series of wrenching snaps, as millions of tons of rock, twisted and strained out of shape by an accumulation of forces slowly exerted over centuries, suddenly lurches back toward an alignment that relieves the stress. If these snap backs are aligned in the vertical plane, the seafloor will dance up and down violently, pushing and pulling at the bottom of the water column like the top of a gigantic piston. This sudden jerking motion, sometimes lasting a minute or more, generates a series of extreme changes in ambient water pressure directing related to the rate of acceleration(speed)of the movement, not so much to the magnitude of the quake.
When a single snap back pushes vertically, the water above experiences a sudden increase in ambient pressure. During a magnitude 6 seaquake, this pressure surge might reach ~2,000 pounds per square inch (psi) above ambient. When the seabed suddenly shifts back to its non-disturbed position, the downward motion, creates a negative pressure pulse called a rarefaction wave.
Said differently, when the rocky seafloor dances vertically during an undersea EQs, the dancing motion generates intense low frequency (LF) hydroacoustic compressions and decompressions that travel 1,500 meters per second towards the surface.Besides peak accelerations, the intensity of the over and under pressures depend also on how near the EQ focal point is to the rock/water interface. The deeper the EQ focus, the more time and distance the seismic shocks have to spread out and weaken to harmless levels before reaching the water's interface. On the other hand, the chance to weaken is severely limited during an EQ hypocentered only 2 to 3 km below the seabed.This means that deep earthquakes are relatively harmless to diving whales, whereas shallow events (<5 km)represent a serious hazard. An extremely shallow magnitude 5 event might generate a 15-second series of LF (1-7 hertz) ambient pressure changes at ~600 psi above and ~600 psi below ambient. Such drastic changes in diving pressures can easily exceed the anatomical mechanisms established by evolution to protect the diving whales from seaquake injury. Evolution faced an impossible task trying to equip diving whales with an advanced biosonar system that could withstand excessive pressure changes generated by EQs (see more on evolution below).
Depth of focus and peak ground accelerations are related. However, picking the most whale-dangerous EQ in a known whale habitat is not so easy because seismographs are not very reliable at determining depth when the EQ focus is less than 10 km, especially if the distance between the seismic station and the focal point is more than 300 km. This is why seismic stations around the world report the depth of shallow undersea EQs at a default value of 10 km. New Zealand defaults depth to 33 km making it impossible to determine a whale-dangerous EQs from harmless ones.
The barotraumatic injuries occur because fluctuating overpressures and underpressures during a feeding dive induce corresponding changes in the volume of the air held inside the whales' cranial air spaces in agreement with Boyle's gas law. Rapid, excessive changes in cranial air volume will ruptures the sinuses and causes them to bleed internally.
It matters not whether these excessive changes in sinus air volume are induced by an undersea EQs, navy sonar, seismic air cannons, explosions, volcanic eruptions, or the violent impacts of a heavenly bodies with the water's surface. Any rapid change in the surrounding water pressure during a feeding dive can injure entire pods of diving whales and dolphins.
BAROTRAUMA KNOCKS OUT THEIR SENSE OF DIRECTION
Watch this short video:
National Geographical Society's spokesperson asked a NOAA whale expert, "What might have disorientated them?" Nora Engleby answered by saying that whales follow a sick pod leader to the beach because they have such a strong emotional attachment to each other. Based on this questionable concept, deep-diving whales and dolphins would rather die than leave a fellow pod mate alone on a beach.
Dr. Engleby's answer is nonsensical and totally counter to self-preservation -- the first law of nature and a hallmark of life. To be successful as a species, whale pods must have a desire to survive long enough to pass on their genes. Thus, oceanic species that flourish in large family pods are in fact made up of members that are devoted to living long enough to have young. The desire to live is also a selfish instinct, since it is personal survival that the whale is seeking. It is from selfish individuals that all living things are descended. A species with a death-wish dies out rather quickly.
SINUS BAROTRAUMA IS THE REAL CAUSE OF STRANDINGS
While the volume of air contained in their flexible sinuses and middle-ear chambers increase and decrease in tune with the ongoing compressions/decompressions during a seaquake, the nearby non-compressible bones, internal organs, muscles, fat, and blood retain their normal size. Therefore, a series of rapid expansions/deflations at the membranous interface between the flexible air spaces and the stationary anatomical parts will establish shearing forces that can induce barosinusitis, barotitis media, labyrinthine fistula, and other pressure-related diving injuries similar to sinus barotrauma, the most common injury in human scuba divers exposed to excessive pressure changes.
THEIR BIOSONAR SYSTEM IS DISABLED
Because the air in the cranial air spaces serves underwater as acoustic mirrors to channel, focus, reflect, and isolate returning echoes in a fashion to make biosonar possible, any pressure-related disturbance that causes a breakdown in the cranial air sinus and air sacs will not only prevent the whales from diving and feeding themselves due to intense pain, but will also knock out their ability to echonavigate (ref #1). Intact and healthy sinuses, air sacs, middle-ear air chambers, and inner ears are ESSENTIAL for both diving and the proper function of biosonar.
Unable to echonavigate, a pod of whales or dolphins suffering seaquake induce barosinusitis would be as LOST AT SEA as a blind man cast overboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
This researcher is not the only one to suggest an injury in the cranial air sinuses and air sacs would destroy echonavigation in toothed whales. Dr. Peter Purves, the famous whale curator at the British Museum of Natural History wrote: It is very easy to imagine a condition in which the air-sac system has broken down, so that it is no longer reflecting, and, with the isolation of the essential organs of hearing disrupted, the animal may lose its sense of direction." (ref #2)
The air-sac system is a grouping of small sacs of air positioned between the two cochleas. The purpose of the air is to acoustically isolate the cochleas from each other in a fashion that allows true stereoscopic hearing. Indeed, if the air-sac system breaks down due exposure to a series of rapid and excessive over and under diving pressures, both cochleas will receive acoustic stimulation at the same time, destroying the animals' excellent sense of direction. Furthermore, it is practically impossible to examine these air sacs in a field necropsy. Moreover, because the air sacs go flat when the animal dies, there is no practically way of examining them in a dead animal.
WHERE SHOULD HUMANS EXPECT TO ENCOUNTER A POD OF LOST WHALES?
Because salt water is 800 times denser and 55 times more viscous than air, hydrodynamic drag to swimming in any direction except downstream is greatly increased. For example, swimming against a 3-knot current is more difficult than walking into a gale-force wind. Divers hanging on the anchor line in a 1-knot current will feel their bodies moving into a horizontal position like a flag flying in a moderate breeze. A simple turn of the head to the side in a 2-knot current will wash away a diver’s mask; a 3-knot current can easily carry distracted divers several kilometers from the dive boat before they realize it. The reason is simple. The drag force exerted on a diver by the current is proportional to the water’s velocity squared (ref #3). This means that when the speed of a current doubles, hydrodynamic drag increases four times. Bottom line is that disorientated whales with no sense of direction, will ALWAYS swim headfirst into the downstream path of least drag. They can swim against the flow for a short distance if frightened by the presents of sharks, a strange shape, or loud noises. They can even be driven by a semicircle of small boats by banging on pipes as long the fishermen drive them in a general downstream direction. But when not being driven by humans, lost pods will always swim with the flow of the surface currents; it could be no other way!
Furthermore, because the current controlling their swim path is the same energy that carries each grain of sand to create a sustainable beach, people can expect to find lost pods on sandy beaches, not rocky or muddy shores. Injured pods will land on a rocky or muddy shore only when a strong offshore wind forces surface currents to flow to areas without beaches.
Most people, including whale scientists and those in charge of rescue teams, focus their eyes on the whales and ignore the direction of the surface currents. Not seeing the surface flow might be a case of selective vision in which the mind blocks out much of the visual field and focuses on the whales and other commotion nearby. In other words, one must concentrate specifically on the water's flow in order to see the tell tale signs of direction. It might even take some training and practice.
With many decades of ocean-going experience, this sea captain can glance at the ocean surface and tell within seconds the direction in which the surface waters are flowing. He can even watch videos and TV news reports of whale strandings and see instantly that the poor whales are either swimming with the downstream flow, or they are milling around in a slack current.
That whales, on their way to a beaching, always swim downstream is the most observable consistent observation. This factual tidbit proves beyond the slightest doubt that stranded whales have no sense of direction; it is the key to understanding why whales beach themselves.
Scientists from Nova Southwestern University offer solid proof of the association between shoreward-flowing surface currents and whale mass strandings. Their paper, entitled Environmental Correlates of Cetacean Mass Stranding Sites in Florida (ref #4) shows that mass beachings occur only when the wind blows in a direction that creates downwelling currents that flow along the bottom away from the beach. When the water near shore is in the downwelling mode, the surface currents are flowing towards the beach. On the other hand, no mass strandings occurred when the wind blows in a direction that creates upwelling currents that flow along the bottom to the beach. During upwelling, the surface waters flow out to sea and away from shore. Their work offers the perfect explanation for why the US East Coast receives far more mass beachings than the US West Coast even though the West Coast has far greater population of whales. The West Coast is noted for its upwelling shoreline that would direct non-navigating whales out to sea. The West Coast is also noted for a healthy shark and killer whale population just offshore.
Upwelling and downwelling wind conditions is the proper scientific way to describe the airflow needed to generate shoreward flowing surface currents that guide injured pods ashore. Here's a video that will explain how the winds control the surface currents, which in turn control the swim path of EQ-injured whales.
It is obvious that the loss of their sense of direction is the only way to explain why a pod of offshore deep-water dolphins would swim into a shallow backwater lagoon on an incoming tide and not be able to find their way back out when the tide falls. Navigation failure is the only way to explain why offshore odontocete would even be in shallow water near the mouth of an inlet in the first place. Furthermore, if the lost whales were not lucky enough to be washed back out to the open sea, their fate is to be left stuck in the mud when the tide recedes. It is obvious that these deep-water acoustically-dependent animals have suffered some type of powerful disturbance in diving pressures that has injured their cranial air spaces and knocked out their acoustic sense of direction. There is no other answer.
Watch videos of strandings, check the tides, verify the direction of the wind, and look at the breaking waves washing ashore. You will see that stranded whales NEVER swim more than 50 meters upstream before being turn by the current and pointed downstream.
Said differently, where surface currents regularly wash ashore, there are sandy beaches, seaweed, flotsam, driftwood, whale carcasses, and sometimes a pod of live-stranded whales or dolphins. Where currents do not normally wash ashore, there will be a rocky or muddy coastline and no beached cetaceans unless a strong shoreward gale generates an infrequent shoreward flow. Watch the videos and look for the flotsam washed in with the whales. You must admit that the flotsam was washed ashore by the current... why not the whales too?
SELFISH HERD BEHAVIOR --- NOT STRONG SOCIAL BONDS
After exposure to a devastating undersea EQ, a pod of whales or dolphins will huddle close to each other, exhibiting the same herd behavior seen in 4-legged mammals on the plains of African when lions are closing in. The whales do this for protection against the sharks that start circling soon after their injury. Sharks know the whales are in trouble because they can sense the stress in the pod and smell the blood and other body fluids from many miles away.
The highly stressed EQ-injured pod, frightened by the hungry sharks moving in on them, huddle even closer and start swimming away. They are quickly turned by the surface currents and pointed headfirst in a downstream direction with a vicious pack of starving sharks now trailing behind them, picking off any stragglers that fall behind.
Social cohesion that is beneficial to pods in breeding and feeding is instantly broken. Self preservation rules the behavior of each animal during this life-or-death crisis.
The risk of shark attack to each individual depends on how close the individual swims to the sharks that are trailing the injured pod. This risk of being ripped apart decreases the further away the individual swims. It stands to reason that the more dominant least-injured pod members will obtain low-risk positions if they swim out front of the pod, farthest from the sharks. On the other hand, those suffering more serious injuries and other subordinates will be forced into the higher risk positions behind the leaders and closer to the trailing sharks that continuously cull the ones that lag behind. Only the pod members with the least injuries will escape the sharks and survive long enough to strand on a beach.This is identical behavior revealed by the Selfish Herd Theory. Lead whales are often seen by human observers as the lost pod approaches a beach; however, the witnesses misunderstand what is really playing out in front of their eyes. They form the false belief that a few whales in front are injured pod leaders and those in the larger group bringing up the rear are healthy pod members following the sick or injured ones because of a strong social bond. This is the favorite theory of whale scientists and the media. The scientists even say that the bond is so strong between pod members that the healthy whales wind up getting stranded because they will not leave their love ones behind.It is also the favorite of the rescue team leaders because the public must believe that the whales being push back out to sea are healthy and will survive. If they knew the whales had little chance of living, donations and moral support will disappear.The best way to promote a strong chance of survival is to bombard the media with the follow-the-sick-leader concept. In truth, it is the fear of the vicious sharks below the surface, and just out of sight of the observers, that keep the non-navigating whales moving downstream towards the beach.
Instead of protecting the young and other sick pod members by taking a position between the sharks and the rest of the pod, the non-navigating selfish pod leaders are out front staying clear of the sharks. Is this self-preservation, or love for fellow pod members?
The rest of the pod follow in a blind-following-blind fashion because they are being guided by the same surface currents that guides the leaders. This creates the illusion that the pod is following a sick leader due to strong social cohesion. The truth is that the few in front are in the best condition, whereas those bringing up the rear are the weakest.
All the experts need to do is observe the sharks in the water during and after beachings. Hundreds of examples have occurred similar to the recent incident at a beach in Western Australia. This researcher has even been able to coordinate human shark attacks with periods in which seaquake-injured whales would be swimming near certain shorelines.
We could make the ocean much safer for recreation if governments would use the Seaquake Theory to predict when injured whales might be offshore of their areas of responsibility. However, as long as whale scientists continue to ignore the Deafwhale Society's work, swimmers, divers, and surfers will continue to die in the jaws of sharks.
Selfish herd behavior has been overlooked by whale experts and rescue teams even though self-preservation is an almost universal hallmark of life. Scientists also incorrectly say that whales freed from the beach will not leave the area right away because they have such a strong social attachment. Just the opposite is true.
Those that were not injured during the earthquake long ago abandoned the pod to their fate. Only those that have lost their sense of direction remain with the pod by visual and acoustic contact. The injured pod members can still hear but cannot determine direction. Hearing the cries of their pod mates might alarm them, but truth be known, the calls are more likely warnings to stay away instead of cries for help. Those not beached will mill around near where their pod members are stuck in the sand for two reasons: (a) the lingering whales believe the sharks are waiting just offshore, and (b) the current near shore is often slack and, with no current, the whales have no sense of direction. When the tide does start to flow back towards deep water, the rescuers know they must push most of the whales out to sea at the same time because no single whale wants to be first to meet up with the jaws of death. This is a time when it is every whale for herself. This is true selfish herd behavior.
The senseless follow-the-leader theory is often quoted by scientists and rescue teams because it allows them to brag to the media about so-called "successful" rescues. If they admit the entire pod is injured and being dogged by hungry sharks, then they can not claim to have SAVED THE WHALES. If they were honest, they would instead say that they had SUCCESSFULLY FED THE SHARKS, which is not all bad.
One other point about the sharks... they will not attack the collective herd because healthy toothed whales and dolphins have ways of protecting themselves. A few pod members can distract the sharks while others swim down and come up like a rocket, ramming the sharks in the liver. The massive liver of a shark is its most vulnerable spot and the whales know it. The sharks do not know the injured whales cannot defend themselves so they use caution and wait until a single whale swims off by itself. The whales know this, which explains why they will not swim away from the beach alone.
The sharks drive the pod downstream about 100 to 125 miles per day. The actually stranding occurs ~2,300 miles downstream and ~23 to ~30 days after the injurious earthquake. This research indicates that shortly after injury, the whales are able to avoid getting too close to shore. But after 2-3 weeks they become weakened and less able to stay away from the sand.
PROOF THAT UNDERSEA EARTHQUAKES ARE DANGEROUS TO WHALES
Believe it or not, a thousand earthquakes every year release the energy of the atomic bomb that flattened Hiroshima in 1945 (15,000 tons of TNT-equivalent). Ninety (90%) percent of these events go unnoticed by man because they erupt under the ocean's surface along mid-oceanic ridges in the backyard of pelagic whales and dolphins known to repeatedly mass strand themselves. Mid-ocean ridges, the major feeding grounds of herds of deep-water toothed whales and dolphins, are by far the most seismically-active places on earth. The sheer power and numbers make it downright foolish to believe that undersea earthquakes are harmless to diving whales.
On page 36 of his book on sound imaging in the ocean, German underwater acoustic's Professor Peter Willie, the former head of NATO's Undersea Research Center, displays three similar sonograms and compares the noise generated by undersea earthquakes and volcanic explosions with that of underwater nuclear explosions of several thousand tons of TNT-equivalent (ref #5). He says earthquake sounds are the loudest underwater sounds ever produced. He also cautions the we should be aware of the underwater rumbling of about 7,000 outstanding, dramatic geodynamic earthquake events per year worldwide, each of a thousand tons of TNT-equivalent and more." He ought to know because it's his job to determine the acoustic differences between underwater nuclear explosions and natural catastrophic events such as earthquakes.
Now watch the SHOCKING VIDEO below and decide if Professor Willie is telling the truth. You will first hear the roar of an earthquake that has traveled 900 miles in the solid seabed as seismic P-waves, and then entered the water below the hydrophone as a series of acoustic pressure waves. In the shocking last part, you will hear the God-awesome irritating noise of seaquake waves that have traveled in the water for 900 miles before over-modulating the hydrophone. If you know any whale scientists, suggest they also watch this video and explain to you why diving whales would not be injured by such a God-awesome disturbance in their backyard. And, if this video, or your whale expert convinces you that undersea earthquakes are harmless to a pod of diving whales, then close this webpage because my evidence does not get any stronger.
While thinking about this evidence, remind yourself that a series of rapid and excessive changes in diving pressures is any air-breathing divers worse nightmare come true! No diver could ascend from such an onslaught unharmed.
Whale-dangerous undersea earthquakes are not Top Secret. I would highly recommend any interested party use "seaquakes" as a keyword and search Google Books. They will find over 500 publications that discuss these intense pressure changes (Link).
Intense pressure disturbances are also called T waves or T Phase waves . T waves (seaquakes) are low frequency acoustic pressure waves that travel great distances from their source. There are thousands of publications (Link) listed on Google Search that discussed the production of T-Phase waves by submarine earthquakes.
Mark Leonard, a geophysicist at Geoscience Australia, revealed how a series of intense oscillations in ambient pressure (t-waves) traveled underwater 1,800 km across the Tasman Sea and struck the Australian Coast and woke up hundreds of people near Sydney (ref #6). Wow... it's hard to believe that earthquake pressure waves can travel underwater for such great distance and arrive at Sydney with enough power to shake the continent so hard to wake people out of a deep sleep. Had there been a pod of whales on a feeding dive when the t-waves crossed the Tasman Sea, New Zealand would have witnessed another mass beaching.
Seaquakes are also reported by the crews of ships, submarines, and by human divers as shock waves and violent disturbances in water pressures (ref #7). The pressure jump behind the front of such seismoacoustic waves can attain 1.5 MPa, or 15 atmospheres above ambient. The average frequency of these pressure changes is ~3 hertz. The vertical component of the seafloor-displacement velocity (SPEED) is estimated at about 10-100 cm/s, the accelerations of floor motions can amount to about 10 m/s² and the area of dangerous oscillations at ~3 hertz might attain 100 square km (ref #8).
EVOLUTION AND EARTHQUAKES
Some scientists say that the Seaquake Theory is invalid because evolution would have surely provided a means to protect the whales. This is true, but not in the ways imagined by whale experts. Rather than give pelagic whales tougher sinuses, evolution took advantage of seaquake injury to serve a more important purpose. The oceans were teaming with pods pelagic whales and dolphins a few hundred years ago. There were so many on a given feeding ground that there was a real danger that the whales might overgraze and cause the squid breeding stock to collapse. Under such a scenario, seaquakes could benefit the survival of the species by removing a few pods to prevent overgrazing. This would be especially true if the pods recovered from their injuries after swimming blinding downstream for several thousand miles. And, with their biosonar knocked out, they would not be able to return to the old feeding grounds.
Thus, to benefit the overall survival of the species, seaquake injured pods needed to move far enough away from the crowd, have no acoustic memory of their travel path to the new location, recover their health, and find a new feeding ground.
Seaquakes could do this rather easily.
Centuries ago, after being wounded by excessive pressure changes, the pods would swim downstream with the surface flow for 2-3 weeks, feeding every so often on the overabundant schools of small surface fish they easily caught a few feet below the surface. Eventually most pods recovered from their sinus injury and went on to populate a new area. They had no biosonar connection with the seafloor during their long road to recovery period so they had no acoustic memories of how to get back to their old feeding grounds. Thus, seaquakes served both to thin the pods from the mid-ocean ridges and to spread the species around the world.
However, now that purse seining factory ships have devastated the schools of surface fish, injured pods are no longer finding the food necessary to recover. More pods are stranding with less and less members per pod. As it stands now, seaquakes alone could spell the end to pelagic odontocete in less than fifty years.
Different species deal with seaquakes in their own way. Many seabed EQs give off high frequency (HF) seismo-acoustic signals a few hours prior to the main shock (ref #9). Some even give off HF signals and no main shock occurs. Baleen whales would have learned as youngsters that these HF signals were coming from an earthquake preparation zone.
Now let's consider the effect human noise might have on the ability of whales to detect nature's seismo-acoustic signals in time to escape a pending earthquake. Shipping noise is loud, hideous, and constant. Let's not forget the constant boom, boom, boom, of a thousand oil-industry airguns blasting away 24 hours every day. As the whales force themselves to become more acclimated to noise they can not avoid, their abilities to detect HF warning signals from pending earthquakes must surely suffer.
On the other hand, since not all EQs give off advanced acoustic warnings, and advance warnings don't always signal danger, it is conceivable that whales might get sidetrack or be too busy feeding and push their luck by not heeding the warning signals.
Whales heard EQ vibrations at a great distance centuries ago. They knew they must not linger in seismically active areas. For example, the calving season would be a very critical time for baleen whales making it a must that they select seismically quiet zones for their calving grounds. Gray whales that feed by plowing up the sediment on the bottom would be especially vulnerable to earthquakes and most assuredly avoid EQ hotspots. Migrating great whales would know to move quickly through dangerous areas. They might even use earthquake noise coming from hotspots as an aide to navigation. It would be very easy to fix their position in the open ocean by comparing the azimuths of several different active EQ zones. EQ noise is no doubt used by whales in ways that will amaze humans. To ignore the role that this noise plays in the life and evolution of whales might be the single greatest mistake made by our experts. Studying how whales avoid EQ injury could save millions of human lives.
The problem is that every so often evolutionary adaptation fails to warm the whales in time and they get injured.
As far as remodeling the sinuses to deal with a sudden increases in diving pressures above an EQ epicenter, evolution was limited in this direction because toughening the cranial air spaces would have reduced the efficiency of the biosonar system. Strengthening the sinuses membranes would also make them less flexible, which would cause greater injury during rapid fluctuations in pressure.
Those that detail the anatomy of whales do describe special pressure-regulating mechanisms that have obvious evolved after many millions of years living in a seismically active ocean. But just because natural selection can produce amazing adaptations, there's no reason to believe it is an all-powerful force, urging organisms on, constantly pushing them in the direction of progress. Natural selection is not all-powerful; it does not produce perfection. This is apparent in the human populations around us: people may not have the right genes to prevent certain diseases, plants may not have the genes to survive a drought, or a predator may not be fast enough to catch her prey every time she is hungry. No population or organism is perfectly adapted. Thus, it is likely that diving whales encounter natural catastrophic disturbances on the seafloor that generate sudden changes in the surrounding water pressures that catch them by surprise and easily overcome their evolved protection.
In Deafwhale Society's opinion, detecting acoustic precursors and helping whales recover from seaquake injury was the best evolution could do to protect them and still allow them to dive to the great depths of their prey.
1. Williams, Capt. D., 2014, No Sense of Direction in Beached Whales (Link accessed 08 March 2014
2. Kenneth Stafford Norris, 1966, Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, (see Dr. Fraser's comments on p620), University of California Press, (Link accessed 08 March 2014)
3. The Effects of Underwater Currents on Divers’ Performance and Safety, July 1987, The International Marine Contractors Association Publication #AODC 047 (Link accessed 8 March 2014)
4. Walker, Rebekah J.; Keith, Edward O.; Yankovsky, Alexander E, and Odell, Danial K. (2005) Environmental Correlates of Cetacean Mass Stranding Sites in Florida, Marine Mammal Science 21(2):327–335 (April 2005) (Link accessed 26 March 2014)
5. Willie, Peter., Sound Images of the Ocean: in Research and Monitoring, Vol 1, Springer, Dec 6, 2005, 512 pages (see Chap. 3. p36) (Link accessed on 2 March 2014)
6. Mark Leonard T-phase Perception: The August 2003, Mw 7.1 New Zealand Earthquake Felt in Sydney 1,800 km Away, Seismological Research Letters Volume75, Number4 July/August2004 (Link accessed 4 March 2014)
7. Mironov, M. A. (1998) Cavitational Mechanism of Acoustic Signal Generation by an Underwater Earthquake, Acoustical Physics, Vol 44, No. 4, pp 445-451
8. Boris Levin and Mikhail Nosov (2009), Physics of Tsunamis, Springer Science (section on seaquakes)
9. E. V. Sasorova, B. W. Levin, and V. E. Morozov, 2008, Hydro-seismic-acoustical monitoring of submarine earthquakes preparation: observations and analysis. Advances in Geoscience, Adv. Geosci., 14, 99–104, 2008 http://www.adv-geosci.net/14/99/2008/adgeo-14-99-2008.pdf
RECOMMENDED READING IN ENGLISHLawson, Andrew C. (1906) Seaquake Questionnaire, Earthquake Investigation Commission, Survey Questions, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000Professor Nicholas Ambraseys, A Damaging Seaquake, Earthquake Engineering, and Structural Dynamics, v. 13, pages 421 - 424 (1985)
K. Hove (1983) SEAQUAKES, an Hazard to Offshore Platforms?, Seismicity and Seismic Risk in the Offshore North Sea Area, Edited by A.R. Ritsemia, A. Gurpinar, Published by D. Reidal Publishing Co., Dordrecht, Holland ISBN 90-277-1529-7
Clyde E. Nishimura (1) and Christopher W. Clark (2) Underwater earthquakes noise levels and its possible effect on marine mammals, Acoust. Soc. Am. 94, 1849 (1993) 1. Naval Res. Lab., Code 7420, Washington, DC 20375, 2. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14850
Birch, F. S. (1966). An earthquake recorded at Sea. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 56(2), 361-366.Quann J., Eberstein, and Curtis S. (1972) A Possible Shock Effect Associated with Seaquakes Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA-TM-X-66096)
CHATTERJEE, P., JAIN, R., & SALPEKAR, V. (2000). Hydrodynamic pressure due to seaquakes in deep ocean. In The Proceedings of the... International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference (Vol. 4, pp. 220-226). International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers.
Lompoc Seaquake of 1927, California Institute of Technology, Southern California Earthquake Data Center, California Significant Earthquakes and Faults
Roland Von Huene, (1972) Seaquakes, The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, Volume 5
By National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Alaska Earthquake, National Academy of Science Washington D.C. ISBN: 0-309-01605-3 (page 13)
Professor Paul G. Richards, (1971) A Theory for Pressure Radiation from Ocean-Bottom Earthquakes, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of American, Vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 707-721, June, 1971
Uenishi, K. (2013). On the dynamics of generation of seaquakes. Rock Dynamics and Applications-State of the Art, 341.
Uenishi, K.; Sakurai, S. (2013) On the Generation of Seaquakes and Their Connections with Earthquake Source Mechanisms, American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013, abstract #S13B-03, Bibliographic Code: 2013AGUFM.S13B..03U
Williams, Capt. D., (2014) Surface Currents Determine the Travel Path of Non-Navigating Whales and Dolphins Suffering from Biosonar Failure Due to Barotrauma in the Sinuses and/or Middle-Ear Cavities
Williams, Capt. D. (2013) Theories about why whales and dolphins mass beach themselves
Deafwhale Society Blog
Williams, Capt. D. 2012, Seaquake/Vessel Encounters 1900 to 2009
Williams, Capt. D. 2012, Seaquake/Vessel Encounters 1799 to 1899
Williams, Capt. D. 1998, Sailing Vessel Mary Celeste Abandoned During a Seaquake
RECOMMENDED READING IN GERMAN
Rudolph, E. Ueber submarine Erdbeben und Eruptionen. In Beitrage zur Geophysik; Prof. Dr. Georg Gerland, Ed. E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagshandlung (E. Koch): Stuttgart 1887; Vol. I, pp. 133-373. (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4)
Rudolph, E. Ueber submarine Erdbeben und Eruptionen. In Beitrage zur Geophysik; Prof. Dr. Georg Gerland, Ed. E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagshandlung (E. Koch): Stuttgart 1895; Vol. II, pp. 537-666.
Rudolph, E. Ueber submarine Erdbeben und Eruptionen. In Beitrage zur Geophysik; Prof. Dr. Georg Gerland, Ed. Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann: Leipzig, 1898; Vol. III, pp. 273-336
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