Before we get too deep into the full explanation, I would like to point out that one of the most popular theory to explain these beachings is a hoax that gets spread around by the mainstream media in a massive propaganda scheme. This is why I ask you to stop listening to lying whale scientists. This also makes it difficult for me because I not only have to show you why all the current scientific theories are invalid, but I must also show you why the work of a lowly sea captain is meritorious.
The best way to understand the purpose for all the scientific lying, is to read about the US Navy's whale stranding scam. And keep in mind, when scientists tell lies, they always use questionable words that turn their lies in to partial untruths. This is an old propaganda trick. Tell a lie but don't lock yourself in. Use words like maybe or likelyor could or might so you have a way out.
The phony lying must stop if we are going to save our whales!
For example, in a supposedly trustworthy BBC report, she says. "The shallow water around Farewell Spit is what causes the whales to beach." This is dumb statement because whales can only beach in shallow water! BBC could care less as long as Rochelle has a sheepskin to hide behind.
Dr. Constantine adds more nonsense, "Farewell Spit, geographically, is quite an interesting place. It spans around in a broad arc."
She's right. On the outside is the open ocean that is formed by alongshore currents that keep the sand moving to the end of the spit. Lost (non-navigating) whales don't strand on this side because the current guides them around the end of the Spit and into Golden Bay. There's a series of really large sand banks visible inside the bay known as Fluvial Sedimentation. This is sand and mud that is washed from the ocean over the top of Farewell Spit during heavy waves and storms.
When the wind-driven current, couple with an increasing tide, wash into the inside of Farewell Spit, it pushes the Fluvial Sedimentation to the Spit to form shallow gray beaches. The is the exact same current that guides non-navigating whales into the beach where they strand. Whales never beach on the ocean side because the water is too deep.
But Dr. Constantine says the water becomes gradually shallower (inside of the bay), adding that the whales may not be able to detect the slow changes in depth using echo-navigation in the same way they would detect a sudden change in dept on the ocean side. Using "may not" is a dead giveaway that she's just guessing and trying to spread her name around as the media go-to expert on strandings when in fact she has no idea what she is talking about.
She goes on to say, "They can echo-locate, but it's a problem with the signal that they get bounced back. It's a combination of this gentle gradient and the soft sand. They probably aren't detecting that they are swimming into more and more shallow water." Again she uses "probably" confirming her wild guesses.
The truth is they have not been detecting navigation signals for several weeks (see below).
But the good whale scientists adds another guess by saying, "By the time they do realize, it's often too late. The tide has already begun to run out. Farewell Spit is especially deadly as it sits, like a hook, right in the pilot whales' path."
We can grant her a bit a truth here. Farewell Spit is a geographical catching arm system that traps a lot of sand and lost (non-navigating) whales swimming downstream with the current and in the path of least drag.
"They can swim straight into Golden Bay and the embrace of the Farewell Spit. It's just geographically a very tricky spot," Dr Constantine says. She adds, "While the shallow water and its effect on echolocation is the most likely reason the animals become stranded at Farewell Spit, pilot whales also have strong social bonds, and this could explain why such large numbers become stuck, or return once rescuers re-float them.
There she goes again using "most likely reason' and "could explain" clearly signifying a mere guess. Scientific experts don't publish guesses that mislead the public.
"I have attended a fair few strandings and what is highlighted is how variable they all are," she says. Hold the phone here. Why is she explaining why whales strand by adding "how variable they are." If she had a valid theory on why whales beach themselves, then her theory MUST account for all the known consistent observations or it must be tossed in the trash can. She also adds, "We do know that because they are quite strongly socially-bonded, they will hang out with each other, but to be honest,every stranding is different. Sometimes they just muck up and don't get the right cues, and other times its because they are strongly bonded to [stranded] individuals in the group." In other words, Dr. Constantine don't have the foggiest idea what she is talking about. That she says she has only attended a "fair few" strandings certainly shows her lack of scientific experience and writing skills. What the heck is a "fair few?" One or two?
She also says, "We think there's some confusion going on in each stranding, but finding a reason is often difficult." Again, she is confirming that she has no idea why pods of whales mass beach themselves!
She keeps telling us more that she does not know. She says, "Scientists don't know for sure why they regularly beach in January or February, though she said it could be because of feeding patterns and changes in ocean temperature which see more whales passing through the Cook Strait at that time of year. These are quite hard things to measure as scientists, because the reality is we don't often see pilot whales in this area until they are about to strand. They are not really coastal. We really don't know much about the movements of pilot whales in New Zealand. It could be simply they are not around at other times of the year."
The reason Farewell Spit claims so many non-navigating (lost) whale pods is due to the current eddies that form in the area. These eddies are due to the predominate current and wind flow in January and February.
As you can see, whale scientists repeatedly bullshit the media. They insist that the echo-navigation and location system of the whales might not work in shallow water. They say the pings from their biosonar might bounce back and forth from the shallow bottom to the surface so many times that the signal gets too weak to return to the whales. They even say micro-bubbles and sand might get kicked up by breaking waves and cause more echo-navigation failure by scattering the echos is a hundred different direction thereby creating an acoustic fog that likely blinds the whales! (ref: "The Puzzle of Pilot Whales, New Zealand Geographic)
Allow me to reveal more absolute scientific stupidity!
Pretend you are a member of a healthy pilot whale pod. Your herd has the most advanced echo-navigation and location system on the planet. Your echo-navigation has been fine-tuned by natural selection over 50 million years. You can acoustically tell the difference between a penny minted in 1960 and one minted in 1970 based on the copper content. In other words, you are the most supreme acoustic animal God has ever created! Now suppose you swim into Cook Strait and turn towards Golden Bay looking for food. You are not having good luck in the deeper parts of Golden Bay so you enter the shallow water on the inside of Farewell Spit. As you move closer to shore you notice your echo-navigation system suddenly stops working due to reasons unknown to you. Would you continue to swim blind with no idea what lay ahead, or would you turn around and go back to Golden Bay's deeper water where your biosonar works just fine?
You are one of the most intelligent marine mammals on the planet so we know you are not going to swim blind when all you got to do is turn and swim back to the deep water.
Now let me show you why Dr. Constantine has no idea what she is talking about. As reported in the mainstream news, the 650 whales came in at various times with the incoming tide. In fact, since the very first beaching millions of years ago, all stranded whales all over the world go ashore with the incoming tide. They NEVER STRAND when the tide is going out to deep water.
This tells you that the entire pod lost its ability to echo-navigate 3-4 weeks before it arrived at Farewell Spit.
Follow me close here. When a pod of whales are passively swimming along with the incoming tide they are actually swimming downstream in the path of least drag. Said differently, they appear to be swimming towards the beach as if they intended to commit suicide. But maybe what we see just looks like suicide? For example, If you were blind and swimming in the ocean, resistance to swimming against the flow would simply turn you around and point you head first, downstream in the path of least resistance (drag). This means that swimming in the direction of the tide and wind-driven currents is highly suggestive that the entire pod lost their acoustic sense of direction due to some previous undersea catastrophic upheaval that might have occurred weeks before the beaching. Maybe they have been swimming downstream for a long long time?
However, swimming to shore with the tide and/or wind-driven currents does not prove that the whales are trying to kill themselves. Nor does it prove that are unable to navigate. But if you couple other consistent observations with swimming with the incoming tide, you can prove easily that the entire pod has lost it's sense of direction!
As it turns out, all supposedly successful refloatings can only be done when the tide and wind-driven currents are washing away from shore towards deep water. If stranded whales are pushed off the beach when the flow is shoreward, 100% of them will turn around and come back to the beach and re-strand again. This has been consistently observed for hundreds of years and proves, without a shadow of doubt, that stranded whales have lost their ability to echo-navigate. They are LOST long before they go ashore and are still LOST when the rescuers push them away from the beach on the outgoing tide. Read more: Stranded Whales Guided Ashore by Surface Currents.
There is another consistent observation that supports the loss of the entire pods acoustic sense of direction. Mass stranded whales always arrive at the beach super dehydrated with no fresh food in the their stomachs. Since all their fresh water comes from the fish and squid they eat, it is obvious that they have not been able to dive and find their food for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Their acoustics is all screwed up and so is their ability to dive.
One more consistent observation supports a catastrophic pod injury: When rescuers push them off the beach with the outgoing tide, the starving whales are never seen to start diving and trying to catch a meal. In other words, beached whales can not echonavigate, they can not echolocate their food, and they cannot dive. This points directly to a barotraumatic diving-related pressure injury; the most common injury is all air-breathing diving animals, including man.
Thirty percent of a pilot whale's head is filled with air. You are technically correct if you call them airheads. This air is contained inside what is known as cranial air spaces. Since air underwater has a markedly different density and compressibility, it makes an excellent acoustic mirror. Evolution took advantage of this acoustic talent many millions of years ago and slowly turned these pockets of air into usable acoustic reflectors and insulators to fine-tune the biosonar system. This means that if a pod of whales suffer busted cranial air spaces during a noisy undersea upheaval, they would lose their ability to dive, find their food, and navigate all at the same time.
Please take the time to read this website. You will understand why injured pods always swim downstream in the direction of the tidal and wind-driven flow. You will also learn that an extremely shallow undersea earthquake is the most common violent undersea upheaval.
Fifty years of research has taught me that the stranding beach is usually about 2,300 miles down current from a dangerous seafloor pressure disturbance that has occurred about 23 days before the beaching. The lost pod swims along at about 100 miles every 24 hours. The 2,300 miles and 23 days is only an average. Whales can be exposed to earthquakes 500 miles and 5 days from the stranding or they can be exposed 3,500 miles and 35 days before they beach,
Since we are dealing with 650 pilot whales, we are likely looking at one injured super pod or maybe three different pods injured a three different distances and three different times and they all happen to show up at the same beach a few days apart (not likely).
As to a super pod, it is nor rare for 3-4 pods to come together and feed on a massive school of squid. So this could be a number of pods getting together for a grand old feast.
Assuming the pod were lost long before they moved into Golden Bay, we must trace back upstream from Farewell Spit and look for seafloor disturbances within the last 35 days that might explain the stranding. The closest whale-dangerous seafloor disturbance we find was a 5.1 mag shallow earthquake that occurred at ~10:30 pm on 5 February in the Tasman Sea ~20 miles northwest of Resolution Island at the South end of South Island (Summary ---- Maps ---- Data). This event is about 550 miles upstream from the stranding beach. The trip from the epicenter to the beach would have taken ~6 days placing the injured whales at the beach on or about 11 February. The timing of this event and the first stranding match perfectly. There is only one problem that seems to disqualify this event; many of the whales died soon after beaching. This is not consistent with an injury that occurred 6 days earlier. If they find fresh food in the stomachs of these dead whales, this event becomes extremely likely!
There are 4-5 other events. But to go through each is far too time consuming and boring. If you want to do the research yourself, please go to this website and learn how to use the tools provided.
Below is my first opinion which I now believe is the correct one!
The barotrauma induced by the rapid and excessive changes in water pressure ruptures the cranial air spaces of the diving pod and disables their ability to echo-navigate. From the point of barosinusitis, they swim along with the downstream flow of the current because that are as lost as a blind man thrown overboard on a pitch black night. The current is the energy that carries sand to build beaches so it stands to reason that the bigger the sand deposit, the more likely lost whales and other flotsam will get stuck in the sand. Stranded whales and sandy beaches go together like apple pie and ice cream!
Considering the above beaching, we need to search the earthquake data file about 2300 miles upstream from the stranding site. We will trace the current back looking for an seafloor earthquake, volcanic explosion, meteorite impact with the sea, naval sonar operations, or sudden explosion. In other words, we are looking for any source of energy that would create excessive changes in diving pressures that could catch our pod by surprise while down on a feeding dive. Since pilot whales primarily feed at night, the source would better fit if it occurred during darkness.
A sudden encounter with severe changes is diving pressures would rupture many of the air spaces in the entire super pod and explain why a super pod of 650 whales were injured is such a way to destroy their acoustic sense of direction. (All the medical details are explained here.)
Fifty-three years of stranding experience has taught me that the most likely spot is along the Southeast Indian Ridge south of Australian in an area known as the Australian-Antarctic Discordance. This area is responsible for ~70% of all mass strandings of pilot whales in Golden Bay, New Zealand. There are many special feathers here that attract the squid that the whales are feeding on. There are also some extremely interesting findings that might explain why earthquakes in this area catch the pods by total surprise. Anyone wishing to know more about the geology of the area should consult this google site.
It did not take me long to find two likely seafloor disturbance. The summary for the most likely event (10 January 2017) can be found here. You should also visit the maps page. Switch to google maps for a better view. While you are at the maps page, click on quick MT solutions and pay close attention to the pattern of the beach ball. This oval center is telling you that the motion in the seafloor was thrusting vertically. This was a very dangerous earthquake for diving whales, which is why it is my #1 pick. It also has a very high amplitude (amp) rating of 247.6 (see data here). T-phase waves from this quake was measured by hydrophones in Australia (T-phases are a series of LF hydroacoustic pressure pulsations that are easily capable of busting the entire diving pods' cranial air spaces all at the same time. Amplitude (amp) is the objective measurement of the degree of change (positive or negative) in the hydroacoustic pressure (the compressions and rarefactions of water molecules) caused by LF sound waves (aka: T-Phases). Sounds with greater amplitude, like the quake noted above, will produce more intense alterations from high pressure to low pressure. Amplitude is almost always a comparative measurement, since at the lowest-amplitude end (silence), some water molecules are always in motion and at the highest end, the amount of compression and rarefaction though finite, is extreme. This is another reason for choosing this quake.
The distance from the epicenter to Golden Bay is at least 2,500 hundred miles and maybe 3,500 miles depending on whether or not the lost pod encounter any circular eddies that often form in the southern Tasman Sea. They could easily swim in a circle for 1,000 miles.
I used to search the ocean currents from this earthquake hotspot to New Zealand's Golden Bay using a program called OSCAR. But the site went dead and I could not find good data on the surface currents because I just didn't have the time. NOAA finally put OSCAR back up with a new design, but this mass stranding will be long forgotten before I can learn the new program. So... here is the new OSCAR site. You doubt the direction of the current, you learn to use OSCAR... maybe you can teach me.