Category: Dolphins and Whales

The U.S. Navy is heading to court in Georgia, where environmental groups say plans for an offshore range for military training poses threats to endangered right whales.

A U.S. District Court judge was scheduled to hear arguments in the lawsuit Thursday in Brunswick. Both sides say the case should be decided in their favor without a full trial.

Environmental groups want to stop the Navy from building a $100 million range to train submarines, airplanes and warships 75 miles offshore from Georgia and Florida.

Opponents say that’s too close to waters used by right whales each winter to give birth. Only about 400 of the rare whales remain.

The Navy says it already takes precautions to avoid harming whales and the judge should strongly consider its needs for military readiness.


Giant squid eyes are sperm whale defence

Richard BlackBy Richard BlackEnvironment correspondent, BBC News

Artwork of battle between colossal squid and sperm whale

The world’s biggest squid species have developed huge eyes to give early warning of approaching sperm whales.

Colossal and giant squid both have eyes that can measure 27cm (11in) across – much bigger than any fish.

Scientists found that huge eyes offer no advantages in the murky ocean depths other than making it easier to spot enormous shapes – such as sperm whales.

Writing in Current Biology journal, they say this could explain the equally huge eyes of fossil ichthyosaurs.

Lead scientist Dan Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden was present at the unique dissection of a colossal squid performed four years ago in New Zealand.

There, he examined and handled the eyes – in particular, the hard parts of the lens.

These alone are bigger than an entire human eye.

“Start Quote

Predation by large, toothed whales has driven the evolution of gigantism in the eyes of these squid”

Sonke JohnsenDuke University

“We were puzzled initially, because there were no other eyes in the same size range – you can find everything up to the size of an orange, which are in large swordfish,” Prof Nilsson told BBC News.

“So you find every small size, then there’s a huge gap, then there are these two species where the eye is three times as big – even though squid are not the largest animals.”

The streamlined giant squid (various species of Architeuthis) and the much chunkier colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) can both grow to more than 10m long, as measured from the tip of the body to the end of their tentacles.

The colossal squid especially is equipped with a fearsome arsenal of weapons, including barbed swivelling hooks.

Sense of proportion

Prof Nilsson with core of squid eye lensDan Nilsson saw the colossal squid’s eyes during the dissection in New Zealand in 2008

Scars on the bodies of sperm whales indicate that the two creatures regularly do battle, while colossal squid beaks found in the stomachs of sperm whales indicate that the latter often win.

Though colossal squid are encountered remarkably rarely by people, they are thought to make up about three-quarters of sperm whales’ diet in the Southern Ocean.

Whereas the whales can spot squid using sonar, the squid can deploy nothing except vision – which suggests there would be a powerful evolutionary pressure towards developing effective eyes.

Prof Nilsson’s team used mathematical models of how different sizes of eye perform at depths up to 1km.

There, moving objects are most detectable through the bioluminescence they provoke from countless tiny creatures in the water.

Squid length graphic

The models showed that in general, there is no benefit to be gained from developing eyes bigger than the swordfish’s.

The exception is a really large moving object.

Here, large eyes enable better detection of a pattern of point sources of bioluminescence – light given off by tiny organisms – in low-contrast conditions.

This would give the squid warning of a sperm whale approaching at a distance of about 120m, the researchers calculate – potentially allowing it to take evasive action and avoid being eaten.

“It’s the predation by large, toothed whales that has driven the evolution of gigantism in the eyes of these squid,” commented Soenke Johnsen, a biologist at Duke University in Durham, US, who was also part of the research team.

They speculate that eyes of the same size might have enabled ichthyosaurs, large marine reptiles that died out about 90m years ago, to avoid the fearsome jaws of the even larger pliosaurs.

A PICTURE of Snow Patrol members swimming with a dolphin in Dubai has prompted a furious backlash from animal lovers across the world.


Scots guitarist Paul Wilson and lead singer Gary Lightbody were photographed with the “resident” dolphin at the  five-star, £350-a-night  Atlantis The Palm resort in the city.


But the PR stunt backfired after animal rights campaigners took to the internet to condemn the band for appearing to support keeping dolphins in captivity.

Lead singer Gary Lightbody and bassist Paul Wilson posed with resident dolphin at the famous Atlantis resort


The band, who formed in Dundee and have sold millions of records, were in Dubai to headline the city’s Sandance festival.


When the dolphin picture appeared, showing Wilson and Lightbody enjoying a “dolphin encounter”, it sparked a huge row.


One angry blogger, Danielle Marie, wrote: “So Snow Patrol, you endorse cutting off 90% of a dolphin’s life so people can swim with it in an aquarium while the animals dies after a short life from a performing marine version of a concentration camp.


She continued: “Cruel. How dare you? I demand you show humanity now if you possess it by stopping your support for these disgusting marine concentration camp equivalents.”


Another angry blogger, Thomas Reub from Germany, said: “What a pity, that movie stars who had shootings with animals, don’t know about the suffering those captured/captivity-bred dolphins encounter. Dolphins belong in their natural habitat, which can only be the ocean!”


The anger went as far as South Africa with one blogger taking to the net to voice her opinion on the photo-op.


She said: “Snow Patrol- dolphins in captivity are so not cool. They deserve their freedom as much as you – the right to live their full lives where they belong, in the ocean.”



Angry Tweets also started to pour in once the pictures were posted online yesterday.


One Tweeter in South Africa said: “If you’re a fan of Snow Patrol, please let them know that supporting the captive dolphin trade is not cool.”


The photo-op is a favourite with celebrities who visit the luxury resort, attracting the likes of The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright as well as Kelly Brook, UB40 star Ali Campbell and Colleen Rooney.


The resort offers the opportunity to swim with their resident dolphin for £150 and promises to be an “unforgettable adventure.”


The resort chose not to make a comment.


Sonar testing raises whale worries

By Bill Sheets, Herald Writer
EVERETT — Whale watchers and tour-boat operators are concerned about the effect the latest round of sonar testing at Naval Station Everett could have on marine mammals.

A loud “pinging” sound has been heard on board several different boats in the area, including the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry, over the past week and a half.

The sound was so loud that Carl Williams, a tour captain for Island Adventures, heard it on the third deck of his boat moored in Everett near Anthony’s restaurant.

“You can hear it while you’re walking on the dock,” he said.

It’s coming at a bad time, say Williams and others who keep an eye on marine mammals. It’s the beginning of the migratory season for gray whales, several of which venture into Possession Sound and Port Susan to feed on their way north.

At least one whale has been spotted in the area over the past week.

“It’s disturbing, it’s very disturbing,” said Susan Berta, co-founder of the Orca Network in Greenbank.

The testing was first heard Feb. 29 and has been heard several times since. It originated on the USS Shoup, a destroyer stationed at Naval Station Everett, said Sheila Murray, a spokeswoman for the Northwest region of the U.S. Navy.

The testing has been done on and off for years but is relatively infrequent and only takes place with special permission of the Pacific fleet commander in Hawaii, she said.

“The Navy’s been doing this type of activity as long as Navy ships have been in Puget Sound,” Murray said.

The Shoup was at the center of a sonar controversy in 2003. The ship was testing its mid-range sonar in Haro Strait between Vancouver Island and San Juan Island. At least 11 porpoises stranded themselves and died on a nearby beach at the time. A pod of killer whales also was seen “speed swimming” away from the ship, said Shane Aggergaard, owner of Island Adventures, which runs tour boats out of Anacortes and Everett.

Reports by the Navy and National Marine Fisheries Service were inconclusive on whether the sonar was connected to the porpoise deaths.

Passengers and crew on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry heard the pinging for about an hour Feb. 29, ferry spokeswoman Marta Coursey said.

Williams said he first heard the sound on his tour boat on Feb. 29 and two more times, the most recent being Wednesday. It continued for about three hours in the afternoon each time, he said.

“The first day it was louder and shorter, the second day not as loud but longer,” he said. On Wednesday, “it was not as loud but continuous.”

Howard Garrett of the Orca Network said he heard the sound onboard a boat with others in Possession Sound on Wednesday. The group put a hydrophone — a device used for listening to sounds from underwater — into the sound and connected it to a microphone.

“It still hurts my ears,” Garrett said the next day, adding that the volume was turned all the way down. “They slowly ramped up and lengthened the duration” of the pings over about three hours, roughly from 2 to 5 p.m., he said.

The group also saw at least one gray whale — he’s not sure if it was the same one seen twice or two separate whales, Garrett said.

At first, the sonar showed no apparent effect on the whale, which seemed to be feeding in the water near Tulalip Bay, he said. When the sonar grew louder after about 20 minutes, though, the whale turned and swam north toward Port Susan, Garrett said.

There’s a group of gray whales that visits Possession Sound and Port Susan on their migratory trip every year, whale watchers say.

Normally about a dozen stop over, said John Calambokidis of Olympia-based Cascadia Research. About six of them are the same whales every year and about six are different, as identified by photos, he said. A trio of regulars has been spotted so far this year, Calambokidis said.

He said that gray whales hear at a lower frequency than dolphins, porpoises and orcas, so the mid-range sonar of the Shoup might not affect them as much, he said.

“I don’t think we know what effect it might have in this circumstance,” he said.

Aggergaard said he understands the Navy’s need to test the sonar but said it shouldn’t be done during migratory whale season, which runs March through May.

“This group of gray whales that come in there are pretty unique, and we’re pretty protective of them,” he said.

Williams, the boat captain, said it could spook the whales from making future visits.

“The repercussion could be next year, we might not see them come back next year,” he said.

Murray said that before and during testing, the Navy stations someone on the ship to look for whales, dolphins or porpoises. Passive sonar and aircraft, if available, also are used.

If any whales or dolphins are seen within 1,000 yards the power on the sonar is turned down, she said. Within 500 yards the power is turned down more, and within 200 yards it’s turned off.

Sonar testing is specifically allowed by federal law off the coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California, she said. It is not specifically allowed by law pierside but it is not prohibited, either, she said. It is not allowed in inland waterways or the Strait of Juan de Fuca, she said.

The Navy is applying for a permit that would specifically allow the testing pierside in Everett, she said. It would seek a waiver under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow some instances in which the sonar testing likely will in some way affect animal behavior.

Sonar is more essential now than ever in detecting newer, quieter submarines that are being used by more than 40 countries, according to a Navy website.

“Active sonar is the only effective means available today to detect, track, and target modern subs under all ocean conditions,” according to the site.

Noise Is Disturbing the Whales

By SONIA COOKE | March 1, 2012 | +
Sylvain Cordier


The residents of California’s Santa Monica Bay have some rather noisy neighbors—and they’re not happy about it. That is the conclusion of a new study which shows that blue whales feeding off the coast of California stop calling to each other when a nearby naval base powers up its sonar for training exercises.

It’s not exactly news that sonar can disturb whales. What’s different about this study, conducted by a team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego for the journal PLoS One, is that it shows an underwater sound outside a baleen whale’s vocalization range can still affect its calling behavior. (Baleen whales – which include the blue, humpback and right — emit deep bass notes well below the ping of sonar.)  Because the endangered blue whale may depend on communication to keep its family group together and alert them to the presence of food, the effects of that sonar are a serious concern.


MORE: Code Blue—Saving Our Oceans

“I was hearing ‘beep beep beep,’ sometimes for one hour or even two days,” said lead author Mariana Melcón, who monitored the giant creatures for two years while they summered in California. “This seems to be very annoying for them.”

But it’s not only sonar that’s getting to them. When ships come by, churning sound of the engines falls within the blue whales’ vocalization range, which means the creatures have to raise their voices. “It’s like we are talking and all of a sudden someone turns on the music very, very loud,” explains Melcón. “Either we continue talking and try to understand each other, or we talk louder.”

Unsurprisingly, this sort of effect – like living inside a noisy, dark bar – is not ideal for intelligent and social mammals trying to have a conversation. Earlier this month, a groundbreaking study came out which showed that when shipping clamour died down in the week following 9/11, the stress hormone levels in a population of whales off the coast of New England plummeted. While the rest of the world reeled, whales finally found some much needed peace and quiet.

This chronic stress, however, is usually hidden from human eyes. “The idea was they weren’t disturbed because they were just hanging out,” said Scott Kraus, the director of research at the New England Aquarium and an author on the paper. “You think, ‘Oh, nothing’s wrong.’ But in fact, there is something wrong.”

It’s not just about annoying whales and dolphins. To these animals, sound – whether a chronic drone or intermittent blast — can be a serious problem. It has behavioral effects, like driving cetaceans away from food, forcing them to breach or surface aburptly, or disrupting communication. (A male blue whale letting out a deep call to females off the coast of Canada could once be heard more than 1,500 miles away in the Caribbean. Today, his song travels only 50-100 miles, limiting the chances of finding a mate.) Then there are physiological impacts, from hearing damage to gas-filled lesions caused by a rapid, startled ascent—the cetacean equivalent of the bends.

MORE: Obama Takes Steps to Limit Icelandic Whaling

As evidence of undersea noise’s effect on whales and dolphins mounts, so is the total volume. Oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, which uses powerful blasts of low-frequency sound in seismic survey, is one threat. Even the drive towards renewable energy – like off-shore wind farms — can have its drawbacks. “It’s essentially pile-driving,” says Mark Simmonds of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. “If you’re installing a thousand wind farms in a particular area, you’re going to be making a heck of a noise. And that noise can travel a long distance.”

Luckily it’s not all bad news. Technology can help — if people are willing to pay for it. Piles being hammered into the ground for wind farms, for example, can be surrounded by ‘bubble curtains,’ a wall of bubbles that stops the sound from traveling. And piles don’t necessarily need to be driven – they can be settled into a hole made with a quiet water drill, or merely anchored to the seabed. In terms of shipping noise, efforts are under way by the International Maritime Organization to develop and encourage the use of quieter engines on ships. “Noise is generally inefficiency in propulsion,” says Kraus. “In the long term, it may be a win/win situation.”

Even the U.S. Navy, long the bête noire of the whales’ sonic world, is now working on the problem of ocean noise. In fact, over the last ten years the U.S. Navy has been the primary funder of marine mammal research on the planet. “It took them a while,” says Brandon Southall, senior scientist for Southall Environmental Associates who is leading a new five-year Navy-funded study into marine mammals and sonar called SOCAL-BRS.“But you can’t say that they haven’t put their money with their mouth is.”

Some say this isn’t simply a conservation issue. It’s a moral one. Last month, a group of scientists and ethicists presented a ‘Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans’ to the largest science conference in the world, the AAAS meeting in Vancouver, Canada. The Declaration states that because of their intelligence and social complexity, whales and dolphins should be respected as non-human persons with a right to life. “We’ve had decades of work demonstrating what kinds of beings they are, what kind of brains they have,” says Lori Marino, a senior lecturer in neuroscience and behavioral biology at Emory University, whose groundbreaking work has shown that dolphins, like humans and great apes, can recognize themselves in the mirror. “It’s all based on upon empirical evidence. We no longer have to guess.” Science, it seems, is telling us how undersea noise is affecting whales and dolphins. It also may be telling us why we should do something about it.

Read more:



The shocking truth about why whales beach themselves!

The SeaQuake Solution

Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society, Inc

(under construction)

(If you like what read, please help the Deafwhale Society, Inc. increase public awareness by posting a link to this site!) 

News Flash: 02/11/2012: Dolphins washing ashore on Cape Cod likely due to sonar mapping/surveying that is going on north of Cape Cod. There are many survey vessels operating from the Gulf of St Lawrence to the Gulf of Maine and as near as 30 miles off the coast of Provincetown. 

Over the last 30 years, ~25 million taxpayer dollars have gone to marine mammal scientists to cut up ~25,000 whales so they find the reason for their strandings. Another ~50 million dollars went to rescue teams to push the beached whales back into the sea and out of sight.

The taxpayers got ripped off!

Nothing new came from cutting up whales. The stranding theories the scientists are now spouting are all over 50 years old. For example, the concept that pods strand because a sloping beach does not return a good sonar signal was first advanced 54 years ago by Dr. Dudok van Heel. This old idea goes hand-in-hand with the notion that individual whales are so attached to each other that they swim ashore and die because they don’t want to live when one their podmates gets stuck in the sand. This mass-suicide bullshit was introduced in 1940 by Dr. Leonard Gill, the director of the South African Museum.

A suicide gene would have vanished from the gene pool long ago. Furthermore, whales have been swimming around sloping beaches for 35 million years. They use both acoustics and eyesight to navigate. If they don’t get a good echo in shallow water, healthy whales would raise their big heads and look all around for a safe passage. Whales ain’t stupid.

So what’s going on? Are the scientists covering-up the real reason whales beach themselves?

In my opinion, whale experts promote outdated and invalid stranding concepts in an effort to turn the public’s attention away from naval and oil industry activities because these two groups supply 98% of all whale research funds worldwide. Allowing a situation to exists in which the worse offenders pay for the research is like have the tobacco industry pay to study lung cancer. Do we really expect these groups to fund a study that will show they are responsible for killing our whales?

The corruption also extends to NOAA, which hands out $millions every year as payoffs to “save-the-beached-whale” groups. The rescue teams are at the scene when the news breaks about a beaching. They are the paid experts who guide the media and keep the navy and oil industry from taking any blame. They are always saying that, “We don’t know why whales beach themselves.”  At the same time, they are begging for more money to cut up more whales. Go to their sites; the thing that stands out the most is the DONATE NOW button. It’s a good deal for the US Navy and the oil industry because the rescue teams make sure to blame the beachings on anything other than acoustic pollution of the marine environment. It’s also a great deal for the rescue teams because they can get lots of  TV and Internet publicity to make sure the donation keep rolling in. Nice deal for everyone but the poor whales.

The most likely acoustic injury from naval and oil activities is barosinusitis, not deafness as you might imagine.

But rather than research barotrauma and barosinusitis, the unscrupulous whale scientists publish articles on chasing prey too close to shore, sharks, killer whales, parasitic worms, viruses, bacteria, fungal infections, red tides, severe storms, geomagnetic navigation failure, geomagnetic storms, phases of the moon, sun spots, social cohesion, heavy metals, immune failure, ingestion of plastic bags, movement of ice sheets, and movement of nutrient-rich waters closer to shore. Most of these studies paid for by the US Navy and the oil industry.

As mentioned above, NOAA scientists are also busy covering-up for the two main acoustic polluters. In 1988, I published an article entitled “Auditory Trauma and the Major Factor in Whales Strandings.”  Therein, I blamed dolphin strandings in the Gulf Of Mexico on explosives used to remove obsolete oil rigs. I blamed mass stranding on undersea earthquakes. NOAA scientists final agreed with me in 2010 (link), but instead laying the blame on explosives used by the navy and oil industry, they blamed dolphin deafness on old age, birth defects, commercial shipping noise, chemical pollutions, and antibiotics.

For those obvious reasons spelled out above, whale scientists also overlooked a cause of beachings advanced 50 years ago that comes close to answering the centuries-old mystery of why whales mass beach themselves. Dr. Francis Fraser, the curator of marine mammals at the British Museum of Natural History offered the following insight while commenting (link) on Dr. van Heel’s failure of sonar near a sloping beach. He said:


       “I have no criticism to offer except that I would suggest that stranding may perhaps be associated with acoustic circumstances divorced from the sonar one. The pterygoid sinuses of cetaceans are frequently infested with nematodes, and the skulls very often have indications of abscesses and inflammation and that sort of thing.  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.” 


The pterygoid sinuses Dr. Fraser referenced surround the cochlea, and isolate it from the whale’s own loud voice. These air sacs also deflect and channel sound around inside the whale’s head like light bounces off mirrors (ref) (ref). This acoustic deflection/channeling prevents sound waves from hitting the cochlea from all directions—a must if the whale is to determine the azimuth of any returning echonavigation signals.

The importance of functional sinuses was confirmed in a 2004 article entitled “Structural and functional imaging of bottlenose dolphin cranial anatomy.”  Therein, a group of scientists, lead by D. S. Houser, had the following to say about the importance of intact air sinuses in the heads of dolphins:


     “… the presence of air around the bulla (cochlea) contributes to the acoustic isolation of the ears by providing a sound-reflective barrier between them. The almost complete dorsomedial coverage of the bulla (cochlea) with air should contribute to the animal’s ability to differentiate time of arrival differences by impeding conduction through soft tissues that exist between the ears. In combination with other air spaces in the head, this should allow dolphins to capitalize on spectral differences in received signals due to shadowing and may contribute to minimum auditory angular resolution in the vertical and horizontal planes. Position, geometry, and volume of the air spaces within the head of the dolphin are important components of both the sound production and reception process and care should be given to their properties when developing models of biosonar production and hearing in dolphins.”


That air spaces in a whales head serve a critical function in both sound production and reception brings up two questions: (1) what would happen if an entire family of dolphins suffering from barosinusitis, and (2) why has the marine mammal scientific community refused to investigated sinus injuries that might cause whales to lose their sense of direction and swim blindly onto a sandy beach? D. S. Houser’s article proves that the scientific community knows the importance of functional sinuses. The obvious answer is spelled: C O V E R – U P! 

Mass stranding toothed whales (odontoceti) live far offshore in tight social groups. Because they dive every day in search of food, and because they depend on their biosonar to navigate, any type of barotraumatic injury that would cause their air sinuses to break down would disrupt their ability to interpret returning navigational echoes and also make it impossible to carry out feeding dives.

For the moment, assume that some sort of upheaval, like a navy sonar or other acoustic mapping device, air cannon array, mining explosion, undersea earthquake or volcanic eruption, or meteorite impact, has happen and caused a series of severe pressure oscillations in the water surrounding a family of diving whales. If exposed to rapidly changing external pressure while diving, the air in their massive heads will expand and contract in direct proportion to the changing pressure (Boyle’s Gas Law). Assume the frequency of these pressure oscillations at 10 cycles per second. If the pressure of the positive phase doubles, the volume of air in the sinuses would instantly drop to 1/2 of normal values. On the other hand, when the pressure decreases by 50%, the volume of air in the sinuses doubles normal size. If the event lasted 15 seconds, the volume of air in the sinuses would bounce back and forth from a 200% increase over normal to a 50% decrease of normal, 10 times per second for 15 seconds (150 times in 15 seconds). Because the air in the enclosed air spaces compresses and expands rapidly during the passing of the disturbance, while bodily tissues, blood, and bones do not, strong pressure differentials develop at air-filled interfaces causing shear forces that tear, bruise, and disrupt tissues, membranes, and small blood vessels.

The sinuses might fill up with blood while the air leaks into the surrounding tissues.

As Dr Fraser pointed out, one could expect that the skulls would also show indications of abscesses and inflammation and that sort of thing. Parasitic worms might also migrate from other areas and infest the now open sinus cavities.

If such a disaster did happen, each whale would lose its ability to dive along with its sense of direction.

Allow me to elaborate further. If you called toothed whales and dolphins airheads, you’d be correct because approximately 30% of a whale’s head is filled with air and foam enclosed inside sinuses and air sacs of all shapes, including the pterygoid, peribullary, maxillary sinuses shown in the illustration on the right. The health of these sinuses is critical to a diving whale’s survival because, as mentioned above, the air and foam serve to channel sound inside their heads to make their biosonar work. They also use these air sinuses to generate clicks and whistles. If a major disturbance in ambient pressure occurs around a pod of whales, it could “break down” all their air sacs and sinuses at the same time. As Dr Fraser suggested 50 years ago, the entire pod would simultaneously – and instantly – lose its sense of direction! 

Read more: “The Acoustic Function of the Air Sacs.”

It stands to reason that a pod of lost, injured whales would group together on the surface for protection against sharks. The question is: where would man expect to encounter a pod of whales suffering from barotraumatic injury?

The simple answer is on the beach.  Again, allow me to explain. If the water was calm like the surface of a small pod, the pod would swim in random directions. But the dynamic ocean is rarely calm. Surface currents would present much greater resistance to swimming in every direction except downstream. Thus, without a sense of direction and no land marks to guide them, the lost pod would simply swim downstream with the flow, which would eventually carry them to a beach. Why a beach? Because the current guiding the whales is the same energy that carried each grain of sand to built the beach in the first place (link). Wherever the current washes ashore, you find a beach, along with seaweed, plastic jugs, coconuts, and beached whales.

Where current does not wash ashore you find rocks and no flotsam and no stranded whales. For more proof, take a lot at the marine debris piled up on theses beaches(link).

more on surface currents and stranded whales…

Because sharks have no swim bladders or air sinuses, they would not be injured by a major disturbance in pressure. Sharks nearby would recognize the underwater disturbance as a dinner bell and come looking for victims. They would be able to sense that the whales were injured. But as long as they swam in a tight group, they would be relatively protected from shark attack.

Whales hang out in tight groups for protection against big hungry sharks and killer whales—not social cohesion.

Storms at sea would split the pod into several smaller groups and cause beachings of the same species along many miles of shoreline.

The surface currents pick the stranding beach, not the whales. Of course, tides and offshore winds also play a big part in selecting the final stranding spot. It is even possible that gale force winds blowing toward shore might wash the whales onto a rocky coast.   

The sharks trail these wounded pods like wolves dogging a herd of elk. They wait patiently for a straggler to fall behind. The injured whales are aware of the waiting sharks so they stay close to their podmates. The whales are also very much aware that they are acoustically blind, and not capable of defending themselves in their normal fashion. Again, the pod does not stick close to each other because of social cohesion, but out of stark fear of being eaten alive. This is called a “herd instinct,” the same behavior shown by any group of mammals worried about a predator. Place several dozen humans adrift in the open sea and see how long it takes them to get close to each other.

In 1971, in an article entitled, “Geometry For The Selfish Herd,” evolutionary biologist W. D. Hamilton asserted that each member of the herd reduces the danger to itself by moving as close as possible to the center of the group. Thus the herd appears as a unit as it moves together, but its function emerges from the uncoordinated behavior of self-serving individuals. Whales do not go ashore in response to the distressed cries of their podmates. Such a notion is pure foolishness. Rather, individuals are quick to follow another member because they are lost and have no idea which way to swim to reach safety.  They don’t know they are about to be trapped in the sand. They are not following a leader; they are moving away from the sharks off in the distance behind them and following another lost whale that only appears to know where it is going.It’s the same as the blind leading the blind.

The terror each individual must experience when alone in shark-infested waters explains why injured individuals, when freed, will not swim away from the beach until the rest of the pod is also freed. They are not expressing sympathy, social cohesion, nor strong social bond for their still-stranded podmates; rather, they know the odds that they might be the next shark attack victim is greatly increased if they swim away alone.



We know underwater explosions can cause biosonar-disabling barosinusitis; as can exposure to powerful navy sonar and oil industry air cannons. In fact, any disturbance in the sea that generates rapid and excessive changes in the surrounding water pressure can rupture a whale’s sinuses. Nature can easily generate such changes. For example, a meteorite’s impact with the ocean’s surface would produce a series of potent pressure oscillations. So would an undersea earthquake. The vertical jerking of the seabed acts like a giant piston, pushing and pulling at the water, generating a series of intense low-frequency changes in pressure called seaquakes.  (aka: ocean acoustic waves or t-waves). 

Sailors have reported violent encounters with seaquakes since the beginning of recorded history. Hundreds of these eyewitness accounts (and other scientific support) are posted on two websites (1750 to 1899)  (1900 to 2009). Reading these two web sites will convince you beyond even the slightest doubt that seaquakes do indeed cause whales to strand!

As touched on above, the stranding beach is always located downstream from the point of injury. Over the past 40 years, I’ve traced approximately 500 beachings. On average, injured whales will swim nearly 2,600 miles over the course of 27 days before washing ashore.




The mystery of why pods of whales swim to a beach has supposedly stumped marine mammal experts. However, not one scientists ever became curious as to whether or not the whales had simply lost their sense of direction and where swimming with the flow of the current when they went ashore. It’s understandable that the public might not realize stranded whales always swim with the flow but how is that marine mammal scientists are so blind to the obvious?

Look at the picture on the right… you can see the waves rolling in. This tells you that a strong shoreward wind in blowing setting the surface currents toward the beach. Examine videos and pictures taken during the stranding, not afterward. If you look close you can see the surface current washing ashore. In many pictures and videos you see flotsam washing ashore with the whales. Why can’t the experts make such a simple observation?

Nor has any whale expert published a paper on barotrauma or barosinusitis in mass stranded whales. We have excellent and detailed government publications on barotrauma in fish (link). Why don’t we have something similar in stranded whales?

The mystery of why whales mass strand has been around since the beginning of recorded history; therefore, the cause has to be something that has been around just as long.  Undersea earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteorite impacts certainly fit the time frame. These events would produced a series of potent pressure changes in the water and could indeed breakdown the air-sac system and cause an entire pod of whales to get lost. Is such an idea so complicated that it defies the imagination of whale experts? It seems reasonable that such a simplistic concept would have been ruled in or out decades ago.

We know that seaweed, floating garbage, driftwood, dead fish, dead whales, and other stuff drifting in the sea is carried to the beach by the surface currents so why not live whales who have lost their sense of direction? After all, the flow of the current is the same force that carried each grain of sand to built the beach in the first place. Again, is this idea too complex for whale experts? Or, is their a blatant cover-up?

Dr Francis Fraser gave scientists the best clue to the stranding mystery 50 years ago when he said it was easy for him to imagine a condition in which the air-sac system has broken down. Why is it that no other marine mammal scientists in the last 50 years has considered the loss of directional sensesfrom a broken down air-sac system as an answer to the stranding mystery? Furthermore, why is it that no marine mammal scientists has ever considered surface currents as the controlling factor in selecting the stranding beach?

Could the reason why whale experts do not support the SeaQuake Solution be because the breakdown of the air-sac system due to seaquake-induced barotrauma is an identical injury to the break down of the air-sac system induced by oil industry air cannons, explosives, and navy sonar? Asked differently: has the deep pockets of the two major offenders caused a mental block in the greedy scientists?   

The US Minerals Management Service (MMS), is a corrupted puppet of Big Oil. The government group collects fees from the oil industry and hands them out to scientists to study the environmental impact of the oil industry.  The MMS and the US Navy, fund 98% of all marine mammal research worldwide. In other words, by controlling MMS, the Navy and the oil industry control 98% of all the money available to study whales and dolphins worldwide.

I warned back in the early 90’s that our government was participating in a cover-up of both deafness and barotrauma in whales but no one would listen.

Well… finally, the truth comes out… In an attempt to clean up the corrupt imagine of MMS, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently changed its name to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and appointed a new director, former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich. But this move didn’t stop the Center for Biological Diversity from filing a law suit against Salazar for ignoring marine-mammal protection laws (link).

According to the Washington Post (and many other sources) dirty dealing and corruption has plagued this downright dysfunctional government agency for decades. Read these shocking links: (link) (link) (link) (link) (link). Since its inception, and in particular since the 1980s, MMS has been embroiled or implicated in numerous scandals. For example, in 1990 MMS employees were linked to prostitution. One MMS female official got pregnant from sleeping with an oil and gas lobbyists. In September 2008, reports by the Inspector General of the Interior Department were released that implicated over a dozen MMS officials of unethical and criminal conduct in the performance of their duties. The investigation found MMS employees had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sex with oil and gas energy company representatives. MMS staff had also accepted gifts and free holidays amid a culture of ethical failure. The New York Times revealed “a dysfunctional organization that was riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch. A May 2010 inspector general investigation revealed that MMS regulators in the Gulf region had allowed oil and gas industry officials to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency. MMS staff had routinely accepted meals, tickets to sporting events, and gifts from oil companies.  In 2009, the regional supervisor of the Gulf region for MMS pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year’s probation in federal court for lying about receiving gifts from an offshore drilling contractor. This deeply disturbing report is further evidence of the cozy relationship between MMS and the oil and gas industry. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) alleges that MMS has suffered from a systemic revolving door problem between the Department of Interior and the oil and gas industries. For example, thirteen months after departing as MMS director, Bush appointee Randall Luthi became president of the National Oceans Industries Association (NOIA) whose mission is to secure reliable access and a favorable regulatory and economic environment for the companies that develop the nation’s offshore energy resources in an environmentally responsible manner. Luthi succeeded Tom Fry, who was MMS director under the Clinton administration. Luthi and Fry represented precisely the industries their agency was tasked with being a watchdog over. Lower level administrators influencing MMS have also gone on to work for the oil and gas companies they once regulated. In addition, Jimmy Mayberry served as Special Assistant to the Associate Director of Minerals Revenue Management (MRM), managed by MMS, from 2000 to January 2003. After he left, he created an energy consulting company that was awarded an MMS contract via a rigged bid. He was convicted along with a former MMS coworker Milton Dial who also came to work at the company. Both were found guilty of felony violation of conflict of interest law. (link)

As it stands now, the underwater activities of the US Navy and Big Oil are responsible for at least 90% of the human-induced barotrauma in cetaceans and they know it.  Thus, they must prevent any legitimate research on the topic to keep from pointing the finger at themselves.  They will fund plenty of research saying that ships kill whales, and that whale watching boats harm them, and that native cultures are killing too many whales. BUT THEY WILL NOT SPEND ONE DIME TO SHOW THAT BAROTRAUMA IS A DIVING MAMMAL’S WORSE NIGHTMARE COME TRUE!

Since they control all the money spent to study marine mammals, they naturally look with strong disfavor upon any scientists who supports pressure-related injury (barotrauma) as a cause of whale strandings. On the other hand, they look favorably on any scientists who is willing to falsify and fabricate research saying the activities of these two groups are not harming whales. The science crooks get the money and the promotions while the honest scientists lose their jobs or cave in to the corruption.

Pressure-related injury (barotrauma), regardless if it is induced by seaquakes or by USN and BIG OIL activities, is and has been for decades, the leading cause of injury in diving mammals and a taboo subject for any whale expert wishing to advance a career in marine mammal science. If a government scientist disfavors either MMS (Big Oil) or the USN, they get suspended from their government job (link). If they work elsewhere, all their grant applications are denied. Said differently, the money scientists get from the US Navy and Big Oil to study marine mammals is the payoff to keep their mouths shut on taboo subjects. Those that know the game know the taboo topics and avoid them. 

Doubt me?  Search “barotrauma and whales” in GoogleYahooBing, or Google Scholar and you’ll find mostly my comments and ramblings. To make matters more suspicious, the research that you will find is blatantly evasive and deceptive. For example, the first scientific objective in one USN sponsored research paper (link) was:“To understand how the ears of deep-diving marine mammals are structured to prevent barotrauma:” Regardless that the main purpose of this research was to understand how a whale’s anatomy prevents barotrauma, Darlene Ketten, a navy favorite, declared therein, ” . . .we have no knowledge of what auditory structural adaptations these animals evolved to endure bathypelagic and rapidly changing pressures . . .” Read this research–it appears to be a totally useless effort since there was no discussion about barotrauma in whales. Nor was there one word about the massive air sinuses and air sacs in the heads of these deep divers. How is it possible to research BAROTRAUMA in diving mammals and not mention the part of their anatomy most vulnerable to pressure-related injury? The ONLY purpose of this US Navy-sponsored scientific doublespeak was simply to have Dr. Darlene Ketten officially declare that there was “no available scientific information on barotrauma in whales.”

But why would making such an official statement in a research paper be so important?  The reason involves the Marine Mammal Protection Act (link). This defective law states repeatedly that the National Marine Fisheries Service must protect marine mammals to the “best available scientific information.” If there is “no available scientific information on barotrauma in whales” as declared in the research paper by Dr. Darlene Ketten, the Marine Mammal Protection Act is worthless legislation to diving mammals when it comes to pressure-related injury.  In other words, as long as the scientists, who are bribed by US Navy and BIG OIL money, do not research barotrauma, there is no protection whatsoever from injuries that could easily blow out their sinuses, air sacs, and middle ears and cause them to die slowly over many weeks.

The “best available scientific information” clause was the object of two well-written law reviews (link) (link).

Obviously, the USN and BIG OIL are not going to sponsor any research that will show how their operations cause rapid pressure changes that slowly kill marine mammals. Nor do they want to see the SEAQUAKE SOLUTION accepted as the cause of mass beachings since it is only a small step from earthquake-induced barotrauma to barotrauma induced by explosives, sonar, and/or airguns. Any scientists who tries to research these topics own their own will face a group of well-funded crooked scientists who will strongly disagree with them. In this fashion, “best available scientific information” will never be established. Instead, a scientific argument will continue until one side of the issue runs out of money. The USN and OIL both have unlimited funds and will pay for all the research needed to keep barotraumatic injury from every gaining “best available scientific information” status. This is exactly what they are doing with the deafness issue in marine mammals; keep the scientific debate on going and you defeat the Marine Mammal Protection Act and can kill unlimited numbers of whales, dolphins, seals, polar bears, and sea otters with complete immunity. In 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published an article saying most stranded dolphins were deafened; however,they also determined that deafness was due to old age and birth defects. Thus, it be concluded that the scientists working for the NMFS are also greedy crooks!


In 2004, the US Navy sponsored a big conference about deafness in marine mammals. They paid for everything. And, all the presenters at the conference were funded by the US Navy. Again, this was like having the tobacco industry sponsoring a conference on the prevention of lung cancer.

Professor Hal Whitehead, at Canada’s Dalhousie University, said the U.S. Navy provides approximately 50% of the funds for marine mammal research worldwide (70% of all the research in the USA). He examined six research reviews and found that a strong conflict of interest led to a misrepresentation of the effects of noise on marine mammals. In other words, here’s independent proof that the public is being misled by scientists on the US Navy’s payroll (link). He recommended that the major noise polluters, such as Big Oil and the US Navy, should not be allowed to fund the research (link).

Professor Linda Weilgart wrote a peace (link) not long ago questioning why the Marine Mammal Commission’s Acoustic Exposure Criteria panel were vulnerable to charges of conflict-of-interest. Her point was that major noise producers, such as the U.S. Navy, heavily funded the research of the panel members—one member was even employed by the U.S. Navy. Her request for a listing of funding sources resulted in a highly defensive reply by the director of the NMFS Acoustic Program.

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