predicting earthquakes by whales


PREDICTING EARTHQUAKES IS EASY FOR WHALES! They can sense earthquakes long before any other animal on earth. For example, not long ago, as early tsunami warnings hit the Indonesian and Sri Lanka coasts. Whale watchers were shocked when cetacean disappeared within five minutes. British film-maker Andrew Sutton, filming off Sri Lanka, reports that the whales he was filming suddenly vanished. The people on the boat were unaware that the quake had happened. But the animals had evidently sensed the seismic danger and fled the area. (Link)

Such evidence is not new!

Predicting earthquake easy for whales
predicting earthquakes by whales

See More Evidence Below!

Predicting earthquakes can save the lives of millions of humans. Whales can do it weeks before a major event occurs.

The problem is that our whale scientists ignore this great skill. They claim whales are not injured by undersea seismic upheavals. Instead, most whales are killed by whaling and ship noise. My goodness, whaling ships can not sneak up on whales. To kill a whale, the whalers must outrun it or drive it to exhaustion. This is why they mount their explosive harpoons on the bow of fast catcher boats.

As far as commercial ship noise and oil survey ships, whales quickly move to a safe distance from the noise.

While a few consider whales to be mindless creatures programmed only with instincts, most know them as being capable of coherent thought and emotions far beyond our imagination.

Predicting earthquakes is easy for whales. They are ten times more intelligent in their water world than we are in ours. And that’s the way it should be because they have ~50 million more years of experience living in the oceans than we have living on the land.

The Greatest Danger Whales Face Comes From Rapid Pressure Changes Caused by Natural Catastrophic Upheavals on the Seafloor.

In fact, for every one seismic disturbance on land, there are nine such events in the backyards of whales. To make matters even worse for the greatest divers our planet has ever known, the sudden vertical shifting of the seabed during a violent seismic eruption pushes and pulls against the water column generating intense changes in hydrostatic water pressure. Couple this with the knowledge that the greatest danger any air-breathing diver faces is barotrauma in the cranial air spaces induced by sudden changes in diving pressures while submerged.

Barotrauma/barosinusitis in diving whales is the #1 cause of beachings. Sudden and deadly changes in water pressure that injure whales are generated during (1) shallow-focused seabed earthquakes, (2) manmade explosions (3) volcanic explosions, (4) the sudden collapse of an undersea volcanic caldera, and (5) the violent impact of a heavenly body with the water’s surface.

Barotrauma is the most common injury in all divers. It is deadly in whales since it prevents them from diving and feeding themselves. That’s why postmortem examination shows severe dehydration in 90% of all beached whales and also why they have no fresh food in the stomach. Some whales, starving due to a pressure-related diving injury, will swallow plastic and almost anything else they see floating nearby, hoping it is digestible.

We need help from whales!

Mega-quake warnings along the Cascadia Fault in California are at an all-time high! Such events (including tsunamis) have killed more humans than all other disasters put together, claiming nearly a million lives in the last 15 years alone. The number of deaths predicted in the near future is many times greater due to the growing population. And it seems that unless we act now, a series of major seismic disasters might even wipe out the entire United States, killing you and your loved ones before you can do anything to save them!

Many earthquake forecasters feel the same way.  From hundreds of sources, the greatest danger the Earth faces now is the supervolcano that underlies the Yellowstone National Park.

What is it going to take to set off Yellowstone’s Supervolcano? Many experts think the seismic P and S waves from a nearby mega-quake (mag 9+). The closest hot spot is along the Cascadia Fault on the west coast. There is another pending mega-quake that might erupt at any moment along the banks of the Mississippi River. In other words, the US could get hit almost simultaneously by two mega-quakes that would, in turn, set off the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Or, if the supervolcano went first, seismic waves from this eruption is sure to set off the two pending mega-quakes.

The first event is likely to occur along the Cascadia Fault Zone running north to south from Seattle to San Francisco along the US West Coast.

Your guess is as good as mine if this event will happen in your lifetime. But if it does, you can bet that seismic P and S waves will travel the short distance to Yellowstone’s Supervolcano.

These two mega-quakes are not our greatest danger.

The supervolcano at the center of Yellowstone National Park will be 100 million times more deadly than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Looking at the odds that one of the three killer events might occur is frightening. When you add the likelihood that active seismic shocks from the first could travel a few thousand miles and easily trip the second and the third events, it becomes a frightening nightmare. The fallout from such a one-two-three punch would spread at least a meter of volcanic ash all across our country, spelling the end of the United States.

However, if I am right about baleen whales, we would get a 3-week warning so we could gather our loved ones and escape before hell arrives! We might also get a warning from the oarfish (hundreds of examples) if we just make an effort to find the key to how whales and oarfish get their warnings.

Predicting Earthquakes and Volcanic Explosions Weeks in Advance in a No-brainer for Whales!

How do we know? The answer is simple: whales flee from the site of strong earthquakes >6.5 magnitude 3 to 4 weeks before they occur. They seem to be even more sensitive than the oarfish.

There are many modern and historical accounts of this phenomenon. Click this link for a recent example from 2016 in which whales appeared early in San Francisco Bay to avoid a strong 7.8 magnitude quake that devastated Ecuador’s coastline.

Another strange incident occurred from November 2012 to July 2013 when ~500 North Atlantic right whales did not show up at their usual feeding grounds off Cape Cod. It just so happened that on April 12, 2012, a rapid series of five earthquakes occurred east of Cape Cod and South of the southern tip of Nova Scotia all within a few hours. Five moderate events, one after the next, released a tremendous amount of tectonic stress. There is a good possibility that hundreds of small non-detectable aftershocks occur on the causative fault or its extension into the deeper earth. Scientists call the movement afterslip. It may happen in the form of frequent earthquakes or as slow slip events not detected by seismic stations.

However, if the silent afterslip gives off precursory signals detectable by North Atlantic Right Whales, it would indeed explain why they avoided the area. They might have understood the seafloor was still under stress and a potential danger to themselves and their young.

History repeats!

And below is a historical account of whales fleeing long before a big quake:

1835 Feb 20:  Effect of the Earthquake at Sea.—On the 20th February (1835), the same day that Concepcion, Chile, and nearby places were destroyed, Captain Whitton, in the whaling ship Nile of this port, was cruising for whales off the coast of Chile, in latitude 39° W. He felt the shock so sensibly that the spars and rigging over his head shook in such a way that it was dangerous to stand under them. Thinking that the vessel had run around, he immediately wore ship and hove the lead, but finding no bottom with twenty fathoms of line, concluded it was an earthquake.

On a later visit to Talcahuano, his suspicions were confirmed, in the desolation and ruin which that once thriving port, then presented; as also in the fact, that the water in the bay was five or six feet lower than the usual depth. Captain Townsend states that he has been on the coast of Chili a number of voyages during the same month, and thinks he never knew such a scarcity of whales, fish, and fowls, as in the present year. It is the general opinion that the earthquake has had a tendency to drive them from the coast. Shock was very sensibly felt by Captain Cotton, of ship Loper, 600 miles from land.—New Bedford Gazette. (Army and Navy Chronicle Volume 1, 1835)  (link — see page 210). You can also find the story in the right column page 405 of this book)

Capt. Townsend is reporting that whales off the Chilean coast could sense the quake coming, and left long before it struck.

In a third example, scientists observed that a fin whale exposed to a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in the Gulf of California on 22 February 2005 swam 13 km from the epicenter in 26 min (mean speed = 30.2 km/ h) — a speed that indicates the presence of stress and danger. These scientists thought the sound of the quake triggered a seismic-escape response. Maybe it was the potential of an aftershock that scared them?

Scientists Don’t Know Quakes Kill Whales!

predicting earthquakes easy for whales

The problem with the idea of “fleeing from the sound” is that the focus of the quake was 41 km below the seafloor. The sound a deep event spreads in a 360-degree circle before it reaches the water. It would have been about as loud as a whale passing gas. On the other hand, a silent precursor might send an alarmed causing the whale to scamper away. The scientists based their opinion on the hypothesis of Richardson et al. (1995). He said cetaceans flee before loud sounds injure them. This observation is likely true, but it is also likely true that whales flee from precursor signals emitted by pending seismic shocks.

All Calving Grounds Are Free of Whale-dangerous Earthquakes! 

My group examined whale calving areas around the world and found them free of seismic activity above 4.5 magnitude. At this point in our research, earthquakes below 4.5 and those above 6.5 do not seem injurious to whales. Quakes less than 4.5 do not release enough energy into the hydrospace. Quakes above 6.5 give off detectable precursory signals. These earthquake-safe zones have likely been passed down from mother to daughter for millions of years.

Why Did Whales Evolve This Skill?

Professor Peter Wille, the former head of NATO’s Undersea Research Center, writes in his book Sound Images of the Ocean that the marine environment is disturbed by “the rumblings of about 7,000 outstanding, dramatic geodynamic earthquake events per year worldwide, each of a thousand tons TNT-equivalent and more” (page 38). His job was to determine the acoustic differences between underwater nuclear explosions and natural catastrophic seafloor eruptions, so he ought to know. Professor Wille adds, “If evolution has achieved inurement of marine mammals against such terrifying noise events is speculative though probable.”

A thousand tons of TNT is almost equal to the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Could whales flourish for 55 million years with 7,000 Hiroshima bombs going off near them every year if they received no warning whatsoever? Changes in the surrounding water pressure generated when the sea floor either explodes or dances up and down rapidly are a hundred times more deadly to diving mammals than to land dwellers because diving mammals capture air and bring it underwater in their sinuses and lungs. Water is not compressible, but the air is. So when the water above an earthquake transmits the full force of the disturbance, whales, fishes with swim bladders and sea turtles will feel unimaginably intense torture in their cranial and extracranial air spaces.

Every small boy knows what happens if he submerges his head underwater and smashes two stones together. A solid blow causes pain in and around his sinuses. Similarly, the passage of earthquake shock waves through a whale’s sinuses makes the sinuses contract and expand with dangerous and damaging intensity.

Seismic Shocks Damage Whale Sinuses!

Underwater earthquake shocks (aka; seaquakes) are not felt as a single blow. Rather, the rapid pressure changes come as a series of wrenching snaps. This is true because of the massive rocks, twisted and strained out of alignment by forces accumulated slowly over centuries, suddenly lurches back toward an alignment that relieves the stress. The result is that solid rock, which normally moves only with the passing of geological ages, accelerates briefly to 8000 kilometers per hour. This sudden jerking unleashes a series of violent hydrostatic pressure waves.

If this snap back to realignment occurs in a vertical plane, as it does during both normal and reverse (thrust) faulting, and the hypocenter (focus) is between 8 and 20 km below the rock-water interface, the p-waves will impact the rocky seabed and cause it to dance up and down like the skin of a drum fifty miles in diameter. This sudden up and down motion pushes and pulls at the bottom of the incompressible water. This jerking movement generates a series of intense low-frequency changes in the surrounding water pressure. The pressure wave rushes towards the surface at 1,500 meters per second.

How Do Seismic Vibrations Travel Underwater?

Sound moves as half cycles of compressions and dilations. During the compression phase, the air in the cranial sinuses of whales would compress. During the dilatation phase, the air would instantly expand.

Diving exposes their cranial air spaces to dramatic changes in pressure. Boyle’s Law states that the product of the pressure and volume of a gas is a constant for a fixed amount of gas at a fixed temperature. Therefore, as cetaceans dive, the increasing ambient pressure will cause a decrease in the volume of air held in a closed chamber (e.g., sinuses, air cells, middle ear, air sacs, nasal cavity, larynx, trachea, and lungs). These divers encounter rapid changes in pressures during diving and the ascent back to the surface. These pressure changes pose a challenge to air-filled chambers. This is especially true for sinuses with rigid walls (such as the paranasal sinuses.

Cetaceans Are the Most Prolific Divers Our World Has Ever Known.

The most common injury in ALL DIVERS (whales included) is sinus and middle ear barotrauma caused by rapid and excessive changes in diving pressures that exceed their ability to counterbalance.

Trying to find out if land animals detected seismic precursors has been the goal of many scholars. They overlooked that ten times more strong seismic upheavals occur under the ocean’s surface in the backyard of whales.

Dangerous changes in water pressure induced by natural seafloor disturbances have batter whales for 55 million years. Predicting earthquake gave them to the ability to flourish in a seismically active ocean. Do the math. Nine out of every ten earthquakes that happen on our planet occur in the oceans. Oceanic faults are ten times longer than faults on land.

What Happens When Whales Can Not Escape?

Because the air-filled cranial hollows of odontocete whales serve as acoustic mirrors that enable their echo-navigation and echolocation, sinus injury can have devastating effects: it will not only prevent them from diving and feeding themselves but will also destroy their acoustic sense of direction. The same applies to mysticetes even though they are not as acoustically advanced as odontocetes.

Some think baleen whales follow a geomagnetic compass but there no evidence to back such an idea. Baleen whales avoid geomagnetic highs. This led scientists to assume they use a magnetic compass. Other scientists have also advance claims that whales swim into sandy beaches at magnetic minima.

Beach sand contains tiny bits of magnetite washed into the sea from land. Shifting sand orientates magnetite in all direction. The magnetic north and south of each grain often oppose its neighbor. This gives the entire beach a magnetic minimum.

Whale Scientists Got It Wrong!

They came up with the idea that geomagnetic fluctuations caused navigation failure. They studied records of whale and dolphin strandings along many beaches from Florida to New England.

Their findings did not explain why they entered shallow waters or swam onto the shore. But it did show that odontoceti had a tendency to beach where the magnetic field was the weakest. There are no strong magnetic fields at any beach unless it just happens to be composed of black volcanic sand. No such black beaches are located along the US Atlantic Coast.

But seeking out magnetic lows is more likely a tactic to avoid geomagnetic highs emitted by pending earthquakes. In other words, the whales are swimming towards the weak magnetic field to avoid dangerous seismic zones.

Toothed Whales Mass Strand!

A seaquake without a detectable precursor could catch a submerged pod of feeding whales off-guard. If so, they will suffer serious barotraumatic injuries in their cranial and middle ear air spaces. This causes their echo-navigation system to fail.

Drag forces of the current acts like a wind vane, turning lost whales downstream in the path of least resistance. Tidal currents also guide them to sandy areas. This is true because the flow of the water is the same energy that carries sand to build beaches. The wind-driven surface currents will also help guide the lost, dehydrated, and malnourished whales.

Human Threats to Whales!

Undersea earthquakes, volcanic explosions, and meteorites crashing into the ocean’s surface can generate shock waves in excess of 100,000 pounds per square inch.

Once we know which precursors whales rely on, we can duplicate these signals. If lucky, we will be able to use them to frighten whales away dangerous human activity.

Whales Saving Humans is a Two-Way Street!

If they teach us to predict earthquakes weeks in advance, we would be foolish not to protect them.

Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society