06 January 2014

Earthquake Causes Pilot Whales to Beach in Golden Bay, New Zealand

On 5 January 2014, 39 pilot whales stranded at Golden Bay.

On 16 December 2013, at 01:07 AM when the pod was likely on a feeding dive, a shallow magnitude 5.7 earthquake suddenly erupted in the seafloor off the West Coast of S. Island, N.Z. The focal point of the seismic shaking--defaulted to 10 km below the ocean's surface--might have actually been no more than 4-6 kilometers deep in the seabed.

As shown by the beach ball outlines below, the direction of the first motion in this event was vertical. The P and S waves punched the rock/water interface with up and down motion similar to a gigantic piston, pushing and pulling at the bottom of the water column, generating potent changes in water pressure directly above the epicenter. Seismic over and under pressure disturbances cause barotrauma in the cranial sinuses and air sacs. Since this enclosed air is used as acoustic mirrors to funnel and channel sound waves, the injury immediately disables the biosonar system of all the exposed whales. The injury knocks out their sense of direction. Their swim path away from the epicenter is always downstream in the path of least drag.



The flow of the surface current from the epicenter was northeast along the Western Coastline of South Island.  Nineteen days later, unable to echonavigate due to barosinusitis caused by the seaquake, 39 injured pilot whales swam with the downstream current into Golden Bay. They had no idea where they were.

Wind, the primary force responsible for surface currents, was blowing ~20 miles per hour out of the west. Waves on the surface transfer some of the energy from the moving air to the water by friction. This tug of wind on the ocean surface begins a mass flow of surface current. The moving water "piles up" in the direction the wind is blowing. Water pressure is higher on the "piled up" side, and the force of gravity pulls the water down the slope-against the pressure gradient- in the direction from which it came. However, the Coriolis effect intervenes. Because of the Coriolis effect, surface currents flow to the right of the wind direction Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere currents flow to the left. This would have set the surface flow of the current in a northwest direction toward the sandy beach. This would also have created a circular flow of water inside Golden Bay.

The non-navigating whales simply swam along downstream with the flow of the surface current and were washed into the sand. As you can clearly see in this video, the flow of the current was washing the whales into the sand. As the tide increased and the water got deeper around them, that flapped their tails in an effort to swim free of the sand. The net result of this effort was to be carried further up the beach to the high water mark.



Because they were washed so high up the beach, it was impossible to get the large animals into deep enough water to refloat them. Besides, strong shoreward winds would have prevented any refloat attempt.

Twelve of the whales died. Rather than prolong the suffering of the remaining 27 whales, the rescuers decided to humanely euthanize them.

This scene has been repeating itself for millions of years.


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2015
Dec 09: Whale Dangerous Earthquake South of Perth 
Dec 09: Seaquake causes dolphins to strand Baja California   
Nov 23: Seaquakes kill 322 baleen whales in Chile    (shocking)  
Aug 24: NOAA whale scientists dumbfounded   
Aug 14: stranded dolphin is determined to be deaf   
Aug 08: seaquake causes pilot whales to strand Nova Scotia   
Jul   27: is our stranding solution flawed as scientists claim   
Jun  01: pilots stranded Isles of Skye from Reykjanes Ridge   
May 22: dead whales washing ashore on the California Coast   
May 10: earthquake kills 20 Sei Whales near Chile Coast   
Apr  10: seaquake strands 150 melon-headed whales in Japan   

2014   
Dec 25: navigation failure in mass stranded whales  (most popular)   
Dec 08: seaquake causes 7 sperm whales to beach Australia   
Nov 24: seaquake beaches 3 sperm whales at Golden Bay   
Nov 04: seaquake beaches 60 pilot whales in Bay of Plenty   
Oct 29: nine pilot whales strand on Prince Edward Island   
Apr  11: 60 pilot whales beach in Bay of Plenty   
Mar 20: Cape Ray Newfoundland 37 dolphins beach   
Mar 14: undersea quakes louder than nuclear explosions   
Mar 13: seaquakes cause whale strandings 32 million years   
Mar 02: blue whale killed by seaquake in Kuwait   
Feb 27: seaquake kills young killer whale   
Feb 23: predicting mass beachings based on seaquakes   
Feb 21: lessons in understanding why whales beach   
Feb 18: seaquake Greenland Sea kills 3 sperm whales   
Feb 12: nine orcas killed by seaquake   
Jan 30: Cape Cod mass stranding predicted   
Jan 20: seaquake causes 39 pilot whales to strand Florida   
Jan 16: seaquakes beach 65 pilot whales in Golden Bay   
Jan 05: seaquake beaches 30 pilot whales in Golden Bay   

2013   
Dec 06: why did pilot whales beached in the everglades?   
Apr 30: seaquake beaches 6 killer whales in Iceland   
Apr 25: beached whales stop war games   

2012   
Dec 08: seaquake beach pilot whales South Carolina   
Nov 15: pilot whales beach at Golden Bay, New Zealand   
Nov 04: seaquake causes two pods to beach at King Island   
Oct 28:  pilot whales strand on North Andaman Island   
Oct 17: earthquakes cause New Zealand whale stranding   
Sep 09: earthquake kills pregnant sperm whale   
Sep 03: seaquake strands pilot whales in Scotland   
Aug 24: two quakes cause near beaching in Cape Verde   
Jul  28:  200 Pilot Whales Northwest of Iceland   
Mar 19: Four Sperm Whales Wash Ashore in China   

2011   
Dec  31: world's rarest whales killed by earthquake   
Mar 06: 52 melon-headed dolphins strand in Japan   

2008   
Nov 20: 52 Pilot Whales Stranded in Tasmania


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