predicting earthquakes by whales


Ninety percent of all tectonic faults and subduction zones run under the surface of the ocean. This means that 90% of all earthquakes and volcanic explosions occur underwater in the backyard of whales. We know these mammals evolved from raccoon-like land animals about 50 million years ago.

There is a huge difference between how an earthquake kills land mammals and how a seaquake kills marine mammals. Most land mammals are killed during a landslide, mudslide, cracked dam, falling buildings, broken bridge, and tsunami waves. On the other hand, seaquakes generate massive hydrostatic changes in ambient water pressure that can squeeze and rupture the cranial air spaces of marine mammals like a steam roller mashes a frog. Since cranial air sinuses and air sacs serve underwater as acoustic mirrors necessary for the function of a biosonar system, barotraumatic injuries would instantly disable the whales echonavigation and echo-location. The injury would render the whales blind acoustically but it would not visible on the beach.

The above points us to only one question:


Earthquakes occur due to sudden release of tectonic stresses deep in the Earth. The process activates highly mobile electronic charge carriers that flow out of the stressed rock. Only ULF/ELF waves travel through both rock and seawater. The local magnetic field also becomes stronger shortly before an undersea earthquake. Increases in the ULF/ELF signals (0.01 Hz to 0.5 Hz) ~30 days prior to an earthquake have been reported. Bottom line is that if whales can detect charged carriers 30 days in advance, they would have plenty of time to swim 3,000 miles away.

In physics, charge carriers are particles that carry an electric charge and are free to move. Electrons, ions, and holes are examples of charged carriers.

In seawater charged carriers are ions. They are molecules that have gained or lost electrons so they are also electrically charged.

In water, sodium chloride (NaCl), dissolves into positively charged sodium ions (Na+) and negatively charged chlorine atoms (Cl-). A solution of ions such as this is called an electrolyte. Seawater is electrically neutral; however, if exposed to static-electricity discharges during the preliminary stage of a strong undersea earthquake, the charged carriers background level will rise sharply.


One theory is that when an earthquake looms, the rock “goes through a strange change,” producing intense electrical currents on the order of 100,000 amperes for a magnitude 6 earthquake and a million amperes for a magnitude 7 event. It really is like underground lightning.

Scientists have measured those currents with instruments sensitive enough to detect magnetic pulses from electrical discharges up to 10 miles (16 kilometers) away.

“In a typical day along the San Andreas fault you might see ten pulses per day. The fault is always moving, grinding, snapping, and crackling. The electric discharged is related to underground activity as a fault prepares to slip.


Evidence indicates that sea salts have had a constant composition for over 1.5 billion years (55% sodium ion, 31% chloride, 8% sulfate, 4% magnesium ion, 1% calcium ion, and 1% potassium ion). Said differently, sodium and chloride ions have not changed even 1% during the 50 million years whales have lived in ocean.
We know that when they first started to return to the sea, they possessed taste buds very similar to land animals. The could salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and …. However, over the 50 million years, evolution has nullified all their taste except salty.  Why do whales still retain the salty taste but have lost of the others. Could it be that the taste of seawater changes about 30 days before a large seaquake?

On the other hand, only 10% of the World’s earthquakes happen on land. Still, documented studies show that zoo animals refuse to go into their cages before earthquakes. Snakes, lizards, and rats come up out of their holes. Hyperactive insects congregate in swarms near seashores. Cattle and other herding animals seek high ground, and birds leave their normal habitats.


In other words, there is evidence that 10% of earth’s natural violence alarms animals, birds, and insects! Can we pretend, as the US Navy and all whale scientists do, that the other 90% that occur in ocean do not not alarm aquatic animals? I don’t think so. I think we must assume that if we are ever to learn how to predict earthquakes in plenty of time to save millions of human lives, we must look to marine life for the solution!

The first whales moved from land into the ocean over 50 million years ago. One of the worse dangers they faced living in a liquid environment was dealing with the sudden changes in water pressure generated by violent seafloor upheavals. In fact, the only way marine mammals could have flourished for so many millions of years was to be able to detect seismic precursory signals in time to swim far away from the danger.

We could save millions of lives if we could only figure out how they do it. Even thought this is not rocket science, at 76 years old, I can not do it alone. I need help from honest scientists and concerned government agencies. I also need help from anyone willing to do online research.


Evolution is the only way animals know when a seismic danger nears. This means the longer a species has survived in a dangerous seismic environment, the more likely they have evolved a seismic response gene.

As we know, genes spontaneously mutate or change, causing changes in individual species. If these changes cause animals to be nervous at the slightest hint of a seismic eruption, and their jittery feeling causes them to flee the area before the eruption occurs, they would live longer and have more time to bear more offspring than the other animals that did not posses the nervous gene.

The sames would apply to whales. In time, the jittery gene would spread and more whales would start swimming away at the first hint of a seafloor upheaval.


Water is a much better carrier of sound than air so the noise of micro-quakes that start weeks before the big shock is certainly something to look at. But there are maybe 20 more precursory signals that must be investigated.


An earthquake is not an instantaneous phenomenon. There is evidence that anomalous changes of the geomagnetic field take place weeks prior to strong earthquakes. These precursors have been reported by a number of researchers, raising suspicion that cetaceans might be spooked by changes in the geomagnetic field.

As it turns out, there is the possibility that iron within the hemoglobin molecules  in their blood might react to increases or even decreases in the geomagnetic intensity. An increase would likely signal danger whereas a decrease would signal seismic safety. If true, whales would shy away for danger zones presented by geomagnetic highs and seek out safety near geomagnetic lows. There is lots of evidence that this is indeed happening.

Whale meat is red, which indicates there is a large quantity of myoglobin contained in its muscle fibers. Myoglobin, like the blood pigment hemoglobin, is a combination of a chemical component heme, which contains iron, and globin, a simple protein. In other words, the entire body of a huge whales could indeed quiver if exposed to a strong magnetic field.

But how would the whale’s brain detect seismic geomagnetism? Functional magnetic resonance detects changes in blood flow in the brain and provides information on the brain activity. When activity increases in a particular region of the brain, there is an increase demand for oxygen. This in turn stimulates a local increase in blood flow as well as an expansion in the blood vessels, which brings more oxygenated hemoglobin. Because the heme in hemoglobin is slightly repelled by a magnetic field when it is fully oxygenated and slightly attracted by a magnetic field when the oxygen is consumed, some portions of the brain when exposed to an increase in the geomagnetic field strength could make the whales nervous and jittery.


Without this jittery gene, whales would have likely became extinct millions of years ago or they would migrated to seismic free zones. To find out, I started looking at whale calving areas all around the world and found them totally free of dangerous seismic activity below 3.5 magnitude and epicentered deeper than 10 kilometers, At this point in our research, these lesser earthquakes do not seem injurious to whales. Quakes less than 3.5 do not release enough energy unless they are focused less than 2-3 kilometers below the rock-water interface.

In my opinion, the above mentioned earthquake-safe zones have likely been passed down from mother to daughter for millions of years

The environment forces changes. If seismic upheavals were benign to whales then very little change will be expected. On the other hand, if there is a danger of death, the jittery genes that give whales an advantage will be passed on. Other genes of no life extending qualities will become lost or reduced and found in fewer and fewer individuals.


My work indicates that they can sense earthquake precursors 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 whales had sensed the danger and fled the area.

Such evidence is not new!

Predicting earthquake easy for whales
predicting earthquakes by whales


Predicting earthquakes can save the lives of millions of humans. The evidence indicates that whales predict earthquakes weeks before a major event occurs.

The problem is that whale scientists ignore any concept that comes from the Deafwhale Society. Scientists even claim whales are not injured by the intense changes in water pressure generated by undersea seismic upheavals. Rather, they claim most whales are killed by ship collisions. My goodness, a noisy ship could never sneak up on a healthy whale. As far as commercial ship noise and oil survey ships, whales quickly move to a safe distance from the racket.

While a few scientists 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. But they will not accept 4 billion-year history of god-awesome  seismic upheavals on the ocean floor as a danger to whales. And since they avoid all consideration of the dangerous of seismic upheavals, they have no idea about how whales might avoid deadly shock waves. They just ignore seismic disturbances on the seabed.

Whales 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 land.


As mentioned above, for every 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 fact that the greatest danger any air-breathing diver faces is barotrauma in their 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) man-made 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.

I repeat, 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.


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!

Whales are experts at predicting earthquakes! Why should we not at least do a preliminary investigation? But for some ungodly reason, whale scientists avoid investigating any association between natural seafloor violence and injury in the world’s most prolific divers (whales).

This avoidance is not an exaggeration! Not one scientists is the entire world is and has ever investigated seismic upheavals on the seabed and whales.

Many earthquake forecasters will tell you.  The greatest danger the Earth faces now is the super-volcano that underlies the Yellowstone National Park.


Many experts think the seismic P and S waves from a nearby mega-quake (mag 9+) might do it. The closest danger spot is along the Cascadia Fault off California’s 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 Super-volcano. Or, if the super-volcano 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.

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 super-volcano.


The super-volcano 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 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 oar fish (hundreds of examples) if we just make an effort to find the key to how whales and oar fish get their warnings.


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 oar fish.

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 12 April 2012, a rapid series of five earthquakes occurred 220 miles 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.

There is also solid evidence that whales can detect geomagnetic signals. the noise of micro-quakes, maybe even infrared signals, or other signals we don’t yet know about!

However, if the seismic 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 unstable and a potential danger to themselves and their young.


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 aground, 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 fear of an aftershock that scared them?


predicting earthquakes easy for whales

In the above incident, 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 out 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, an unknown silent precursor might have sent an alarmed causing the whale to scamper away. The scientists based their opinion on the hypothesis of Richardson et al. (1995) who said cetaceans flee from loud sounds. This observation is likely true, but it is also likely true that whales flee from precursor signals emitted before the seismic noise even begins.



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). He ought to know. His job was to determine the acoustic differences between underwater nuclear explosions and natural catastrophic seafloor eruptions. Professor Wille adds, “If evolution has achieved inurement of marine mammals against such terrifying noise events is speculative though probable.”


Could whales flourish for 50 million years with 7,000 Hiroshima bombs going off near them every year? No way could they live in the ocean unless they received early warning of some kind. 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 both compress and expand with dangerous and damaging intensity.


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 shocks.

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 non-compressible water. This violent jerking 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.


Seismic waves, like sound waves, move as half cycles of compressions and decompressions. During the compression phase, the volume of air in the cranial sinuses of whales is compress to less than 1/10 of normal volume. During the decompression phase, the air would instantly expand to 10 times normal volume.

Diving exposes their cranial air spaces to dramatic changes in pressure. This means as cetaceans dive, the increasing 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 during 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.


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.

Many scholars have spent decades trying to find out if land animals could detect seismic precursors. But they failed to consider that nine times more seismic upheavals occur in the seabed.

Dangerous changes in water pressure induced by natural seafloor disturbances have batter whales for 50 million years. Feeling nervous just before an earthquake gave them the ability to flourish in a seismically active ocean.


Because the air-filled cranial spaces 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 due to pain but will also destroy their acoustic sense of direction. The same applies to mysticetes even though they are not as acoustically advanced as odontocetes.

Scientists have seen baleen whales swimming around magnetic 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 oppose its neighbor. This gives most beaches a magnetic minimum.


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 whales 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. Black volcanic sand indicates a beach with a strong magnetic field. There are no black beaches on 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. If we just watch their movements, we might see them predicting earthquakes.


A seaquake less than magnitude 6 and 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. Pain would also prevent them from diving and feeding.

Drag forces in a flowing current is like a wind vane. It turns lost whales downstream and points them in the path of least resistance. For example, incoming tidal flow would serve to 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.


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.


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

Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society

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