08 July 2019

WHY WHALES STRAND


WHY WHALES MASS STRAND!

By Captain David Williams BSc, MSc 

Deafwhale Society 
(the oldest whale conservation group in the world)

Watch the NatGeo video below. 



Notice that the announcer closes by asking: "What might have disoriented them?"

Pods of toothed whales (odontocete) orient themselves by using the most advanced echo-navigation and echo-location system the world has ever known. This means the NatGeo announcer is really asking what might have caused biosonar system failure in an entire pod at the same time? 

To explain why biosonar fails we first tell you that odontocetes hear in full stereo. This means if they lose hearing in only one ear, they lose their acoustic sense of direction along with their ability to echolocate their food. And since all of their fresh water comes from the food they eat, it is expected that a pod of beached odontocete with only one good ear will likely be dehydrated and have no fresh food in their stomach. As it turns out, dehydration and no fresh stomach contents are the two most common findings in beached whales.

We also need to figure out which way a pod of odontocete will swim if each member is deaf in one ear? There is only one answer. Acoustically impaired toothed whales will always swim downstream in the path of least resistance. The energy that guides them downstream is called hydrodynamic drag. It is a force exerted by the flow of the water against the upstream motion of a swimmer. It increases the faster one swims against a current. It disappears if one swims downstream. If the whales turn and swim against the flow, the current quickly turns their streamlines bodies and point them back downstream in the path of least drag. Everything going downstream with the current usually ends up on a sandy beach because the current directing their swim path is the same energy that builds beaches. 

This leads us to wonder if some kind of pressure-related diving accident might have disabled their stereographic hearing. 

When we dig deeper into the stereographic workings of odontocete biosonar, we find that both of their cochleae are suspended in the cranial space by ligaments and isolated from the skull by oily foam-filled sinuses. And the two cochleae are isolated from each other by the same mixture of air and oily foam surrounded by stretchable membranes. This almost total isolation enables the left ear to hear independently of the right ear. The effect of the separation of each cochlea inside the skull is the same effect you get when you put on a set of stereo headphones.

Knowing that toothed whales hear in full stereo brings up the more specific question of what could possibly cause an entire pod of odontocete to lose this acoustic advantage?

The answer is kinda simple. Exposure to rapidly changing diving pressures that exceed the counter-balancing mechanisms of each diving whale results in a rapid increase and decrease in the volume of air inside their cochlea chambers and other cranial air spaces. The rapid changing air volume near stationary cranial anatomy leads to a small rupture in the sinus membranes allowing air and foam from the cranial air spaces to leak into the cranium. 

Once their two cochleas are no longer isolated, whales lose their stereographic hearing along with their acoustic sense of direction. They become no better than human divers at sensing the direction of sound underwater. This means they can no longer echonavigate or echolocate their prey. 

The next question is what causes rapidly changing pressures in the deep ocean where pods of pelagic toothed whales dive and feed?

Since toothed whales have been stranding en mass for many thousands of years we must look for a very old source of pressure disturbances like underwater volcanic explosions or maybe pressure waves generated by a meteorite slamming into the surface of the ocean. We should also consider shallow-focused vertical-thrusting undersea earthquakes common along the mid-ocean ridges where odontocetes dive to feed on squid.

But of course, an underwater explosion during the laying of an oil industry pipeline or during a naval ship-shock test could easily do it. And live bombs dropped from naval airplanes during practice would also damage the cranial air spaces of any pod of divers nearby. So could military sonar! 

But the most common causes of excessive changes in diving pressure for pelagic whales are vertical-thrusting undersea earthquakes that occur along mid-oceanic ridges where pods of odontocete hang out feeding on squid. 


Bottom line is that exposure to rapid changing diving pressure cause injury in their cranial air spaces that disables their biosonar. Busted sinuses also prevent our planet's most prolific divers from diving and feeding themselves. It disables their biosonar so even if they could dive to the depth of their prey, they still can't echolocate their food. And since their freshwater comes totally from the food they eat, these pods will always strand severely dehydrated with no fresh food in their stomachs.

The strange thing in this area of research is that of the 100+ plus scientific articles published by whale scientists, mass beachings due to biosonar failure caused by barotraumatic injuries in their cranial air spaces has never been mentioned. 

Diving related pressure injuries are the most common injuries in all diving mammals including man. The very least whale scientists should do is publish a paper explaining how deep-diving whales are protected from injury caused by excessive changes in diving pressures. In other words, don't just ignore the topic, tell us why odontocete whales and dolphins are never injured during excessive changes in diving pressures generated by undersea earthquakes, volcanic explosions, meteorite impacts, explosions, military sonar, and oil industry air cannons.

To understand the position of whale scientists just realize that 98% of all the money they receive as grants comes from the big navies of the world and the oil industry! It looks like they are being bribed to look the other way! Also, realize that a lot of the money funding whale research is filtered through innocent-looking non-profit groups set up to trick the public. Another thing you should know is that big universities depend on grant money. If whale scientists don't secure grants, they don't advance and will likely lose their jobs.

DO SCIENTISTS KNOW THAT PODS OF BEACHED ODONTOCETES SWIN INTO A BEACH BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO SENSE OF DIRECTION?  

Whale scientists claim that sand, air bubbles, and gentle-sloping beaches confuse the sonar of the whales. And the confused sonar causes the whales to continue swimming in the blind until they are stuck in the sand. But if conditions near the beach confuse their sense of direction, why don't healthy whales and dolphins just turn around and swim back out to the clear blue sea?

Whale scientists also have a reason why a pod of whales just don't turn around. They say that when a member of the pod is sick and swims into the sand, the rest of the pod will not leave the sick one on the beach to die alone because they love each other so much.   

And, if confused biosonar and too much social cohesion doesn't sound like it fits the occasion, they alter their theory and say the whales were over-excited while chasing prey and run aground by accident. 

Mass stranders are deep water (pelagic) species... what are they doing chasing fish in water less than few feet deep? Then there is another favorite dumb-down theory that says mass stranded whales are just following one or two sick leaders ashore. In other words, odontocete whales commit mass suicide JIM JONES style.

WHALE EXPERTS DON'T TALK ABOUT DEAF WHALES!

Whale scientists never suggest that a US Navy explosion used in ship-shock trials might disable the biosonar of odontocetes. They never say the sonar on a Navy Submarine might deafen whales. 

Now don't get me wrong, some scientists have said an explosion or a submarine sonar might cause disorientation and stranding. Others flatly deny this idea. In other words, whale scientists sponsored by US Navy, NOAA, and BOEM argue with each other, claiming they need more taxpayer dollars to settle their scientific argument. 

But hold on a minute... believe it or not, whale scientists have a very deceptive reason why they are always arguing with each other!


WHY DO THEY NEVER AGREE?

The Marine Mammal Protection Act contains 17 clauses that say our government must protect whales based on the "best scientific information available." Sounds great until you realize that an "ongoing scientific argument" defeats the protection provided by the Marine Mammal Protection Act!  

In other words, it means that a US Navy sponsored scientific argument about whether or not navy sonar injures whales defeats the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There is no protection for the whales until the scientists prove that sonar does indeed injure whales.  And, if some scientist proves sonar injures whales he/she will never get another dime from the US Navy or the oil industry.  

And since scientists now agree that whales are attending a pod leader's funeral, then pushing a pod of supposedly healthy mourners off the beach without giving them any freshwater, food, or medical treatment is not a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 because attending the funeral of a loved one is the "best scientific information available."  And the story goes on and on turning the Marine Mammal Protection Act into a big joke played on the whale loving public.

It also means that if only one or two leaders are injured as claimed by whale scientists, then it is okay to beg the public to donate hard-earned cash to free the 98 supposedly healthy whales. On the other hand, if the entire pod is injured, then a donation to a "save the stranded whale group" will only benefit the hungry sharks waiting offshore and the money-hungry executives of these nonprofit groups. However, if I am right when I say the whales are doomed, then the ones who should pay to clean the beach is the local governments and businesses that make money off the tourists.


Now ask yourself, has there ever been a time when one or two whales swam into the sand and died while 98 whales lingered in the shallow water waiting for them to die? If so, did the 98 mourners swam away with their heads hanging low after the two sick ones died? Nope, no one has ever observed such behavior. In all cases, the entire pod swims ashore with the incoming rush of the current. It is not a whale funeral. The whole herd swims blindly into the sand because they have lost the ability to echo-navigate!


OUR WHALES WILL SOON DISAPPEAR


We don't have that much time. What we need is an easy foolproof way to determine if a pod of beached whales is indeed suffering biosonar failure as the Deafwhale Society has been saying for almost 50 years!

I should mention here that most mass stranders like pilots, false killers, and sperm whales do not use their eyesight to navigate forward. Their eyes are set on the side of the head and used to see danger approaching from the side or the rear.


DRONES CAN TELL US THE TRUTH


What we really need to stop the deception and get to the truth is lots of drones in the air. Observation by drones will one day prove that stranded whales and dolphins are not using their forward-looking echo-navigation system when they swim into the beach. 

But we must also admit that if the incoming waves are pounding the shore and making bubbles and stirring up the sand it could defeat their echo-navigation. That's what the scientists repeatedly claim and it makes sense unless you examine the idea closely.


Think about this: If the waves are pounding the beach and bouncing odontocete sonar signals in all directions, what the heck is a healthy pod of whales doing inshore in rough water? Let's give a little credit to these intelligent mammals. Healthy odontocete would naturally turn away from pounding surf that defeats their biosonar. They would go back to deeper water. They would only swim forward if their forward-looking echo-navigation system was NOT working. They would never continue to swim to a sandy beach in a rough sea if their echo-navigation was working. If they were so stupid to swim into a pounding surf, they would have gone extinct millions of years ago.

One more thing I should point out before we get too deep into echo-navigation failure. Pods of odontocete NEVER strand when the sea is flat calm and the tide is outgoing. And they are NEVER successfully rescued unless the tide and/or wind-driven current are washing out to sea.


In other words, wind and tidal-driven shoreward current play a big part in selecting the beach where mass strandings repeatedly occur.



Said differently, pods of pelagic toothed whales only strand when the tidal-flow and/or wind-driven currents are washing ashore. Here's another tidbit: stranded whales can never be persuaded to swim back out to deep water against the inflow of the current. All so-called successful refloatings are done when both the tide and wind-driven currents are washing out to sea. If the weather conditions are not right, government authorities usually just shoot the poor acoustically blind whales. (They know the pod can't be saved anyway so they put them out of their misery.)


If drones can help us understand why whales always mass strand only when the current is washing ashore and never strand when the current is washing out to sea, then drone observations will help solve the centuries-old mystery of why whales strand.


SCIENTISTS ALWAYS HAVE A THEORY TO DISPUTE COMMON SENSE


Scientists say the reason healthy odontocetes strand in a tight group is because they are socially attached to each other. They also use this same excuse to explain why individual whales often return to the beach after they are freed. They say that tight social cohesion governs their behavior. The stark fear of being eaten alive by vicious sharks is never mentioned! And the crazy part here is that we know hungry sharks love to eat whale meat and often follow the pod right up to the beach!

If you were a whale with disabled forward-looking sonar, I'm sure you would stay as close as possible to your mates. If you were swimming all alone, the odds are very high that you will be the next meal of the hungry sharks. The whales know the odds that they will be next shark-attack victim is much lower when they are all grouped together.  

In other words, stranded whales, or those about to strand, are not attached due to love for each other. They stay in a tight formation out of fear of being ripped apart by sharks. The so-called "social attachment" is simply the fear of being in an unknown place with no acoustic sense of direction. 

Self Preservation is the first law of nature! When odontocete whales sense death is near, they will do anything they can to save their own lives. Beached whales that are refloated out by themselves will never venture far from shore until their pod mates are also released because they know the sharks are waiting. The pod must all be released at the same time during outgoing tidal flow before they will swim to deeper offshore waters.
  
Because water is 800 times denser than air, resistance to swimming against the flow will always turn a group of lost humans, or a pod of lost whales, and point them downstream in the path of least drag. Said plainly, all non-navigating swimmers lost at sea will swim downstream--no exceptions!

As it turns out, drag forces make it easy to determine if a pod of whales has lost their forward-looking biosonar. If observed not diving to feed by a drone and also determined to be constantly swimming downstream with the current and maybe with sharks following closely behind, then we can be 100% sure this odontocete pod is not echo-navigating. Read... the flow of the surface current determines their travel path.

Let me say this a different way. Suppose we see a pod of whales 100 meters from the beach swimming towards the sand where they will likely die in great pain. We can safely bet their forward-looking navigation system is working only if they turn about 50 meters from the beach and swim back to deeper water.

Let me insert another observation. Suppose the waves at the beach are roaring ashore. Healthy whales know what rough seas breaking on a beach sounds like. They can hear the roar from 10 miles offshore. They know that air bubbles and suspended particles of sand block their sonar. In other words, healthy whales never visit the beach on a rough day. Said differently, we can be sure if a pod of whales continues to swim into a deadly sand trap when the nearshore seas are rough, something is wrong with their forward-looking echo-navigation system! In other words, pods of non-navigating odontocetes are found stranded on beaches because that is where the current deposited them!

If they could echo-navigate, they will turn long before reaching the sand and swim away. In fact, if their sonar is working, they will likely remain 10 miles offshore during a storm.


There is plenty of proof in observations. Suppose a pod of non-navigating whales are near a beach during a slack tide with no wind-driven currents to guide them. Will they swim to the beach, swim back out to sea, or will they slowly mill around in an aimless direction as you can see in the video below?


      

The surface current must flow to guide lost whales. Otherwise, they swim around aimlessly. It is so easy to see in the above video. The pod is suffering from biosonar failure. There is only one honest thing a whale scientist can say if he reads this article and looks at this video: (1) "Whale scientists have been lying to the public for 50+ years so they could get grant money!"

And the cover-up works both ways. The Navy, oil industry, and NOAA are protected from public awareness and the scientists continue to get grant money.  If the truth leaks out, both sides of the scam are exposed! This means the granting of taxpayer money must continue.



But one whale expert did mention the connection between the flow of the surface currents and whale strandings. In a rather confusing study published in 2005, Dr. Daniel Odell stated that beached whales were being guided ashore by the current. His publication came close to telling the truth. However, Odell never considered that the whales had lost their ability to echo-navigate. He knew they had no food in their stomachs. Why didn't he considered whether or not they could dive and echolocate their food? 

Necropsies done on thousands of stranded animals confirmed the above. All the adults are severely dehydrated. They have no fresh food in their stomachs. Both are a clear indication that they had not fed in weeks. If they could not dive and feed due to echo, they certainly could not echo-navigate.


But whale scientists refuse to accept that anything lost at sea, dead, or alive, will always swim or float downstream with the flow of the water.


Here's a tricky two-part question for whale scientists: If a pod of whales becomes lost at sea for any reason, where are humans likely to encounter them and why? The answer to the first part is on a sandy beach where pods usually strand.

As for why, they are much more likely to beach in the sand because current, the energy guiding them downstream, is the same energy that carries each grain of sand to build the beaches where whales strand. In other words, you find both sand and stranded whales where currents regularly wash ashore. Where currents do not wash ashore on a regular basis, you will usually see rocks and mud and no whales unless a strong shoreward wind steers the surface currents into the rocks or backwater bays.
  
Let us go one step further. Imagine we are watching a live-streaming video taken by a drone. We can see a pod of 100 whales swimming downstream just about to run into the beach and get stuck. We must ask ourselves if all the whales are lost. Or is this a funeral procession in which 98 healthy individuals are following one of two sick leaders that just want to go ashore to die? (The follow the sick leader theory.)

From a drone, we can tell whether or not the pod is swimming ashore at the very same time that the current is flowing ashore. If so, the funeral procession seems unlikely. Keep in mind that following a sick leader, or maybe two, is the #1 theory of US Navy sponsored whale scientists. They have repeated this concept in a propaganda-like manner since Congress approved the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972.



WHY HAS THE ENTIRE POD LOST ITS BIOSONAR?

There are two main ways to disable the biosonar of an odontocete (toothed whale). One is an explosion that breaks the hair cells of their inner ears. The cochleas are not easy to damage because evolution has made the ear bones of whales as hard as steel. The reason the cochleas are hardened is that an injured cochlea is not likely to heal.

The other cause of a pod beaching involves echo-navigation failure due to barotrauma in the cranial air spaces of the entire pod.

In 1972, Professors Kenneth Norris and George Harvey wrote that healthy cranial air spaces were necessary for echo-navigation in a paper entitled. “A Theory of the Function of the Spermaceti Organ of the Sperm Whale." (Link) Therein, these two famous cetologists state:

"The structure of the two vertically oriented air sacs that bound the ends of the spermaceti organ to suggest that they are sound mirrors. The posterior sac (the frontal sac) possesses a knob-covered posterior wall that is probably an adaptation allowing maintenance of the sound mirror in any body orientation and during deep dives, Finally, this complex anatomical system is suggested as a device for the production of long-range echolocation sounds useful to the sperm whale in its deep-sea habitat, in which food must be located at considerable distances in open water."

Then in 1977, on page 602 of a book edited by Professor Ken Norris entitled Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, the famous cetacean anatomists and curator at the British Museum of Natural History, Dr. Peter Purves, stated:

"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."

Drs. Alex Costidis and Sentinel A. Rommel recently confirmed the sonar purpose of the sinuses when they wrote:

"The cetacean accessory sinus system is unique; these un-pigmented mucosa-lined structures, which are located on the ventral aspect of the skull, are typically associated with hearing and acoustic isolation of the ears. The ventral sinus system is distinguished from the dorsal air sacs by appearance and function; the lining of the dorsal sacs is composed of pigmented epithelium and these sacs are associated with sound production."

Chinese whale scientists have also proven barotrauma in cranial air cavities will indeed disable echo-navigation and echolocation. They recently published several research papers in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

TITLE: The influence of air-filled structures (cranial sinuses and air sacs) on wave propagation and beam formation of a pygmy sperm whale in horizontal and vertical planes!

ABSTRACT: The wave propagation, sound field, and transmission beam pattern of a pygmy sperm whale were investigated in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Results suggested that the signals obtained at both planes were similarly characterized with a high peak frequency and a relatively narrow bandwidth, close to the ones recorded from live animals. The sound beam measured outside the head in the vertical plane was narrower than that of the horizontal one. Cases with different combinations of air-filled structures in both planes were used to study the respective roles in controlling wave propagation and beam formation. The wave propagations and beam patterns in the horizontal and vertical planes elucidated the important reflection effect of the spermaceti and vocal chambers on sound waves, which was highly significant in forming intensive forward sound beams. The air-filled structures, the forehead soft tissues, and skull structures formed waveguides in these two planes for emitted sounds to propagate forward.

What these Chinese scientists have just confirmed is that air-filled structures (cranial air spaces, sinuses, and air sacs) form acoustic waveguides that project echo-navigation and echolocation clicks forward. Like Professor Norris and his group determined 40 years ago, the air pockets act like acoustic mirrors bouncing the sonar clicks in the direction the individual whale wishes to insonify.

Common senses that any trained scuba diver can verify says that if rapid and excessive pressure changes generated during natural undersea upheavals damage these critical air-filled-structures the whales will lose their ability to focus their echo-navigation beams and to echolocate their food. Moreover, if the air-filled-structures are ruptured, the whales will also lose their ability to dive! No diver can dive with busted sinuses; the pain would be too extreme.

There's more proof from honest Chinese scientists:

TITLE: Enhance beam formation by air-sacs and skull in Chinese river dolphin

ABSTRACT: The melon of dolphins is considered by many as the structure responsible for the focusing of the biosonar beam. However, finite element numerical simulation of the head of the Chinese river dolphin indicates that the biosonar beam is formed by reflections off the air-sacs and bony structures in the skull. The finite element approach was applied to numerically simulate the acoustic propagation through dolphin's head in four situations (complete head, skull only, skull plus melon, and skull plus air-sacs). The acoustic intensity distribution and the corresponding polar plots showed that the melon causes the beam to narrow slightly and affects the angle of the main beam. The air-sacs kept the sound propagating to the anterior and focuses the energy into the main lobe. The bony structure prevented the sound from propagating below the rostrum and contribute to the energy in the main beam. The results suggest that the air-sacs and the complex bony structure play a dominant role in the formation of the biosonar beam of a dolphin, more so than the melon.


My hypothesis is that intense changes in diving pressure generated during natural undersea upheavals damages the air sinuses and air-sacs and disables their biosonar. The lost whales end up swimming downstream to a sandy beach. Moreover, this has been going on since ~35 million years ago when odontocete first developed a working biosonar.

In fact, my Undersea Seismic Upheaval Hypothesis (link) is in total agreement with the scientists mentioned above. Both seaquakes and military sonar would induce barosinusitis and indeed cause the breakdown of the air sac system, which would result in the whales losing all sense of direction. In fact, Dr. Purves' comment was what caused me to start researching barotrauma in mass stranded whales.

Before 1977, many whale scientists were seriously trying to understand why a pod of whales might lose its acoustic sense of direction. At a 1977 mass stranding in Florida, scientists suggested to a newspaper reporter that:  "the directional sonar, which steers them away from danger, somehow went awry." (link)

In 1966, the US Navy admitted that pressure disturbances during a seaquake could kill and injure marine life. (see SUMMARY on page 59: “Marine life can be destroyed by seaquakes.”) If the US Navy tells you marine life can be killed by seaquakes, you can bet that the sinus cavities of a pod of diving whales can be injured in a fashion that knocks out their biosonar system.


MORE EVIDENCE


For those readers who would like to dig deeper into the connection between cranial air spaces and echo-navigation, I recommend "Anatomic Geometry of Sound Transmission and Reception in Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris)" by Ted Cranford et al. (Link)

On the other hand, if the US Navy is bribing the whale scientists with grant money to the point that they agree most stranded whales are healthy and should be pushed back into the water, then a conspiracy to violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act is indeed in full bloom.

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

Ask yourself has there ever been a time when one or two whales swam into the sand and died while 98 whales lingered in the shallow water waiting? And then when the two sick ones died, the other 98 healthy ones swam sadly away. Nope, no one has ever observed such a funeral. In all cases, the entire pod swims ashore with the incoming rush of the current. Now you have to decide if this is a funeral gone wrong, or has the entire pod lost their ability to echonavigate?

The Truth is, the entire pod has lost it's biosonar system and will soon die!


Think about it this way: rapid and excessive changes in water pressure during a dive is every diver's worst nightmare come true. Toothed whales and dolphins are not exceptions. These diving mammals have massive head sinuses. In fact, excluding bone and brain tissue, roughly 30% of the total volume of the head of a pilot whale or a beaked whale is air enclosed in various sinuses, air sacs, and middle-ear air chambers. Calling these whales airheads is technically correct.








Instead of looking at the possible loss of acoustic navigation, whale scientists keep repeatedly telling you that healthy whales follow a sick pod member to the beach because they love each other too much. This is nothing more than US Navy propaganda.

There are two ways to knock out the biosonar of an odontocete (toothed whale). One is a US Navy or oil industry explosion that breaks the hair cells of their inner ears. Cracking the ear bones of whales is not too easy because evolution has made them as hard as steel. The reason is simple. A deaf whale is likely a dead whale because of the time it would take these hard bones to heal.

The more likely truth is that pods of whales and dolphins (odontocete) mass strand because they are no longer echo navigating due to barotraumatic injury in their cranial air spaces.

Then in 1972, Professors Kenneth Norris and George Harvey wrote that healthy cranial air spaces were necessary for echo-navigation in a paper entitled "A Theory of the Function of the Spermaceti Organ of the Sperm Whale." (Link) Therein, these two famous cetologists state:


"The structure of the two vertically oriented air sacs that bound the ends of the spermaceti organ to suggest that they are sound mirrors. The posterior sac (the frontal sac) possesses a knob-covered posterior wall that is probably an adaptation allowing maintenance of the sound mirror in any body orientation and during deep dives. Finally, this complex anatomical system is suggested as a device for the production of long-range echolocation sounds useful to the sperm whale in its deep-sea habitat, in which the animal must locate food at considerable distances in open water."

Then in 1977, on page 20 (chapter 16) of a book edited by Professor Norris entitled Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, the famous cetacean anatomists and curator at the British Museum of Natural History, Dr. Peter Purves, stated:

"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." (link)

Drs. Alex Costidis and Sentinel A. Rommel recently confirmed the acoustic purpose of the sinuses (Link).

"The cetacean accessory sinus system is unique; these un-pigmented mucosa-lined structures, located on the ventral aspect of the skull, are typically associated with hearing and acoustic isolation of the ears. The ventral sinus system is different from the dorsal air sacs by appearance and function; the linings of the dorsal sacs are composed of pigmented epithelium, and these sacs are associated with sound production."


Just recently. Chinese whale scientists have proven barotrauma in cranial air cavities will indeed disable echo-navigation and echolocation. They recently published several research papers in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The influence of air-filled structures (cranial sinuses and air sacs) on wave propagation and beam formation of a pygmy sperm whale in horizontal and vertical planes!

ABSTRACT: The wave propagation, sound field, and transmission beam pattern of a pygmy sperm whale were investigated in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Results suggested that the signals obtained at both planes were similarly characterized with a high peak frequency and a relatively narrow bandwidth, close to the ones recorded from live animals. The sound beam measured outside the head in the vertical plane was narrower than that of the horizontal one. Cases with different combinations of air-filled structures in both planes were used to study the respective roles in controlling wave propagation and beam formation. The wave propagations and beam patterns in the horizontal and vertical planes elucidated the important reflection effect of the spermaceti and vocal chambers on sound waves, which was highly significant in forming intensive forward sound beams. The air-filled structures, the forehead soft tissues, and skull structures formed waveguides in these two planes for emitted sounds to propagate forward.


What these Chinese scientists have just confirmed is that air-filled structures (cranial air spaces, sinuses, and air sacs) form acoustic waveguides that project echo-navigation and echolocation clicks forward. Like I said 40 years ago, the air pockets act like acoustic mirrors bouncing the sonar clicks in the direction the individual whale wishes to insonify.

If rapid and excessive changes in ambient diving pressure generated by natural seismic upheaval in the seafloor damage these critical air-filled-structures, the whales instantly lose the ability to focus the acoustic clicks they use to eco-navigate and to echolocate their food. And if the air-filled-structures are ruptured, the whales will also lose their ability to dive! No diver can dive with busted sinuses; the pain would be too extreme. There is another problem if barosinusitis prevents the whales from diving more than about 5 feet. The acoustic energy required to ensonify the seafloor with eco-navigating clicks and have the clicks bounce back to the sender is relatively high. It could easily be that the navigation clicks above 220 decibels will establish cavitation (air bubbles) in such shallow water. Odontocete might need to be below 100 feet before acoustic navigation in deep water will function especially in today's acoustically polluted ocean.

Here's more proof presented by my new Chinese friends:


"Enhance Beam Formation by Air-Sacs and Skull in Chinese River Dolphin"


Abstract: The melon of dolphins is considered by many as the structure responsible for the focusing of the biosonar beam. However, finite element numerical simulation of the head of the Chinese river dolphin indicates that the biosonar beam is formed by reflections off the air-sacs and bony structures in the skull. The finite element approach was applied to numerically simulate the acoustic propagation through dolphin's head in four situations (complete head, skull only, skull plus melon, and skull plus air-sacs). The acoustic intensity distribution and the corresponding polar plots showed that the melon causes the beam to narrow slightly and affects the angle of the main beam. The air-sacs kept the sound propagating to the anterior and focuses the energy into the main lobe. The bony structure prevented the sound from propagating below the rostrum and contribute to the energy in the main beam. The results suggest that the air-sacs and the complex bony structure play a dominant role in the formation of the biosonar beam of a dolphin, more so than the melon.



In my opinion, intense changes in diving pressure generated during seismic upheavals on the seafloor traumatize the air sinuses and air-sacs which in turn disables their biosonar. The lost whales end up swimming downstream to a sandy beach. And this has been going on for ~35 million years, shortly after they first developed a working biosonar system.

In fact, the Deafwhale Society's Seaquake Hypothesis (link) is in total agreement with all the scientists mentioned above. Both seaquakes and military sonar will induce barosinusitis and indeed cause the breakdown of the air sac system, which would result in the whales losing all sense of direction. In fact, Dr. Purves' comment was what caused me to start researching barotrauma in mass stranded whales.

Before 1977, many whale scientists were seriously trying to understand why whales might lose their acoustic sense of direction. At a 1977 mass stranding in Florida, scientists suggested to a newspaper reporter that:  "the directional sonar, which steers them away from danger, somehow went awry." (link)

In 1966, the US Navy admitted that pressure disturbances during a seaquake could kill and injure marine life. (see SUMMARY on page 59: “Marine life can be destroyed by seaquakes.”) If the US Navy tells you seaquakes can kill marine life, you can bet that a seaquake can injure the sinus cavities of a pod of diving whales in a fashion that knocks out their biosonar system.


MORE EVIDENCE



For those readers who would like to dig deeper into the connection between cranial air spaces and echo-navigation, I recommend "Anatomic Geometry of Sound Transmission and Reception in Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris)" by Ted Cranford et al. (Link)


The cranial air chambers (aka acoustic mirrors) in the head of a dolphin. The back third of the lower jaw, known as the pan bone, is very thin (white). Its internal fat fills the hollow region within the lower jaw and terminates near the ear complexes. The air-filled maxillary and peribullary sinuses are large and also form acoustic shields (mirrors) to isolate the two ears from one another.

Enclosed sinus and air sacs make up 30% of the volume of the heads of beaked whales--this is likely why military sonar so easily injures them. The same holds true for pilot whales, explaining why they are injured so often by seaquakes. The more air you have in your head, the more likely you are to be injured by sudden changes in diving pressures.


STEREO RECEPTION DURING DEEP DIVES


As pressure builds during a dive, a scuba diver's regulator furnishes compressed air to keep the sinuses at their average surface volume thereby preventing sinus squeeze. Even though whales have no scuba tanks, the air in their cranial air pockets must still maintain surface volume even on a deep dive. Evolution has rearranged the sinuses so that as increasing ambient pressure reduces the volume of air during a dive, the whale can shift compressed air from the lungs into the sinuses to keep them properly inflated to ensure that their biosonar continues to function at depth. Moving the air from the lungs does not cause a lung squeeze because the ribs are hinged allowing the lungs to collapse almost flat. In this fashion, deep divers have lots of air to fill their sinuses and keep their biosonar system working down to their maximum diving depths, which they reach when all the available air in their lungs shifts to the cranial air spaces.

Leaking cranial air spaces will also prevent them from diving deeper than a few feet. Since they can not dive and can not echolocate their food, they will always arrive at the beach with only non-digestible squid beaks, fish bones, and sometimes plastic in their stomachs. They are starving and sometimes swallow plastic bags flapping in the waves mistakenly thinking they were squid or octopus. Non-digestible stomach contents is a consistent finding of all mass stranded adults. And because all their fresh water comes from the food they eat, they are always severely dehydrated, another consistent finding.


THE EVIDENCE IS CRYSTAL CLEAR


Non-digestible stomach contents and dehydration points directly to barosinusitis that disrupts diving and echolocation of their natural prey. Had the barotraumatic injury occurred 2-3 months before the beaching, the whales would have died of dehydration, starvation, or in the bellies of sharks. Had the barotrauma occurred 4-5 days before the stranding, there would still be fresh food in their stomachs, and they would be hydrated. The empty stomachs and severe dehydration in 99% of mass stranded marine mammals prove that they were not able to dive and feed themselves for at least 2-3 weeks before they went ashore.

Odontocete can drink small amounts of saltwater as long as their kidneys remove the extra salt. But if they are starving, the first organs to fail is their kidneys. Another unanswered question is whether or not stranded whales suffer the symptoms of severe dehydration? Dehydration is a reliable predictor of impaired cognitive status in humans. Objective data, using tests of cortical function, support the deterioration of mental performance even in mildly dehydrated young adults. Dehydration also frequently results in delirium as a manifestation of cognitive dysfunction. Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of one's environment. There is no doubt that mass stranded whales are confused and unaware of their situation. Additional studies have identified an increase in cerebral nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase activity (nitric oxide synthase, NOS) in dehydrated mammals. The increase in NOS can cause cell and tissue damage leading to middle ear infections (Link), and in the case of whales, one might expect confusing echo-navigation and location signals. Watch the video below and notice that a long line of people are trying to block whales from turning and swimming back to the beach with the flow of the current. You are seeing LOST/CONFUSED pilot whales:

With a little honest research, we could narrow the time since their last feeding down to within a few days. We could then multiply the number of days by their estimate downstream swim speed. We could tell about where they were when they became confused and lost their acoustic sense of direction. We could then look around for a catastrophic pressure disturbance on the seafloor, a sonar encounter, or a nearby explosion that might have generated severe pressure disturbances.


THE SIMPLY WAY TO SEE THE TRUTH!


Whale scientists could easily verify echo-navigation failure with a drone flying above a pod of whales swimming either on their way to a beach or away from the beach after a so-called successful rescue. It matters not if they are headed to the beach or swimming away, a lost pod of whales will ALWAYS swim downstream with the flow. Scientists and the public have both observed whales swim to the beach with both the incoming tide and the wind-driven currents. Both scientists and the public have observed a previously stranded whale swim away from the beach when the tidal and wind-driven currents are washing out to sea. We witness this all the time both in person and in hundreds of videos. But neither the public nor the scientists make a point of the fact that 100% of all mass-stranded whales and dolphins are always swimming with the flow of the surface currents when they go ashore or when they are pushed back out to sea. It could not be any more obvious that stranding whales and dolphins are not navigating when they arrive at the beach or when they swim away. They are always swimming downstream with the flow. And they are always dehydrated and have no fresh food in their stomachs.

Another dead giveaway is that they can not dive and feed themselves. Their biosonar system is simply not working. Scientists and rescue people never mention that pods of stranded whales pushed back out to sea never dive under the water as they slowly swim down current and away from the beach after a so-called successful rescue. A drone flying above a so-called rescued pod will indeed reveal the truth. But drone operators should expect the authorities to try to stop the filming!


OBSERVE WHAT I HAVE LEARNED OVER 50 YEARS 


Don't believe what the scientists tell.  Think on your own! Ask any open-water-trained scuba diver. They will tell you that the flow of the current is a force that disrupts diving and disorients divers as much as any other. Unless carefully calculated, monitored and accounted for, oceanic currents, even in the mildest form, can cause difficulties for unsuspecting divers. Drag forces can sweep them away from the boat, causes shore divers to miss the planned exit location and, when strong, it physically taxes divers as they labor to swim against it.


MORE ON WHY BEACHED WHALES AND DOLPHINS ALWAYS SWIM DOWNSTREAM?



If a diver becomes lost in a current, rescue teams can be assured that he or she will end up swimming downstream with the flow. Tests it yourself!  Put your arm out of a car window at 50 mph. You will immediately feel the strong resistance to the speeding wind, but you can still hold your arm fairly straight. But if you put your arm in the water over the side of a small boat moving at only ten mph, the hydrostatic drag makes it impossible to keep your arm submerged. In other words, when whales or scuba divers swim upstream against a current, the current pushes back in the form of powerful drag forces. When a healthy pod of whales is echo-navigating to a new position, they can easily swim upstream against a 3-knot current because they know where they are going. On the other hand, when a pod of non-navigating whales tries to swim upstream, the increased drag forces turn their streamlined bodies around and point them headfirst in the downstream path of least drag without the lost pod of whales even realizing it. Just like water always flows downhill, non-navigating whales, lost scuba divers, and lost swimmers always swim with the flow. There are no exceptions. Even lost logs always float downstream.

How stupid are whale scientists never to recognize such a simple observation? They both see and know what is happening. You would be sadly mistaken to think they don't realize that non-navigating whales soon to beach themselves are always swimming downstream! The whales have no other choice! Lost whales have no idea the current is controlling the direction in which they swim. Said a bit differently, if the wind-driven surface currents, including the force of the incoming tide, are flowing to the beach, a pod of non-navigating whales will always swim towards the beach. The human chain in the above video is trying to prevent the whales from swimming back to the beach with the flow of the current. They will continue their efforts until the tidal flow and the wind-driven currents are flowing back out to sea. Then they will no longer be needed since the pod of lost whales will swim away from shore on their own. Lost whales will swim around in any and all directions with no idea which way to swim if there is no current to guide them. Open your eyes and look! It is so easy to see.


FAKE RESCUE OF WHALES!



Rescue team leaders know that if they want to see non-navigating whales swimming back out to deep water, they must make sure the volunteers push them off the beach when the tide and/or wind-driven currents are flowing away from shore. They know they can only rescue stranded whales by using the outflow of the surface current. 


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN STRONG SHOREWARD WINDS DURING AN OFFSHORE STORM OVERPOWERS THE OUTWARD FLOW OF TIDAL CURRENTS?



The rescue teams either shoot the whales or load them on trucks and transport them overland to a different beach with a strong outflow. 

Whale scientists could easily and cheaply prove the pod has no sense of direction by following a hundred meters behind the next rescued pod. Or scientists could easily fly a drone above the pod and film them. If the freed whales constantly swim downflow, they have no acoustic sense of navigation. If the pod does not dive to catch a meal, the pod is obviously suffering diving-related barotrauma! How simple it is! I would even pay all the expenses and steer the boat myself just to verify that the scientists did not fake their efforts. And the scientists could verify that I did not fake the outcome! But such a simple, cheap experiment will never be conducted because the whale scientists already know the truth.


FORGIVE ME FOR POUNDING THE TABLE!


Current is the energy that both builds and erodes beaches. It is just common sense to expect that non-navigating whales, dead or alive, will be guided by an incoming tide and/or wind-driven current to a sandy area that is in the process of building. Equally, it is also common sense to expect no beached whales will show up in areas where the current is carrying to sand away. 

Large and small landmasses that extend out to sea opposing the downstream flow, like Cape Cod, Farewell Spit, and Cape Sorrel, trap a lot of sand along with a lot of lost whales. In fact, every popular standing spot around the world serves as a giant catching-arm system for both lost whales and sand.


DON'T LET THE SCIENTISTS FOOL YOU WHEN THE TRUTH IS RIGHT IN FRONT YOUR EYES!



All you have to do is understand one simple truth: all mass stranded whales have previously suffered a diving-related injury that caused the failure of their acoustic sense of direction. 

Close your eyes and try to swim across a flowing river if you don't believe lost swimmers always swim downstream. You will never reach the other shore. Or, if you are afraid to blindfold yourself in a river, put a rubber duck in a bathtub, stir the water, and watch it float down current. Resistance to the flow of the upstream current turns everything swimming or floating in the water with no sense of direction and points it downstream. No exceptions!


ALL STRANDED WHALES, DEAD ARE ALIVE, ARE ALWAYS SWIMMING WITH THE FLOW OF THE CURRENT WHEN THEY WASH ASHORE!


Odontocete whales evolved 55-million years ago from 4-legged raccoon-like animals. They had air sinuses and middle-ear air chambers like present-day canines. Over the next ~20 million years, evolution took advantage of the acoustic reflectivity of the air in their cranial sinuses. The first acoustic advantage to evolve was the separation and isolation of the left cochlea from the right cochlea. This step enabled stereographic hearing, a must-have feature of echo-navigation and echolocation. This bit of re-modeling by evolution was to be expected simply because sound waves underwater bounce off air pockets like light bounces off mirrors. The original canine cranial air sinuses began to function as acoustic reflectors, serving the newly evolved whales by directing sound around in their heads in a way to sharpen their acoustic ability. In other words, evolution transformed cranial air spaces into organs of hearing just as critical to the workings of odontocete biosonar as are their cochleas.

Echo-navigation and/or echolocation of their food is as impossible for toothed whales with busted sinuses as it would be for whales with busted cochleae. As toothed whales became better adapted to diving deeper and deeper, the evolutionary remodeling taking place in the cranial air spaces created an entirely new set of problems.


AS EVERY SCUBA DIVER KNOWS!



Rapid and excessive changes in the surrounding (ambient) water pressure during a dive will injure the sinus membranes and may damage middle ear air cavities. The same would happen in an airplane flying at 30,000 feet if the cabin suddenly lost pressure. In fact, any sudden change in surrounding air pressure or water pressure that exceeds the ability of any counterbalance mechanisms can cause barosinusitis and severe pain.

As a diver, if you suffered a serious sinus injury, especially barotrauma in your middle-ear air chambers, you would lose your ability to sense acoustic direction and might even become stone deaf. A pod of dolphins would suffer the same only much worse. They could not dive more than a few feet due to severe sinus pain. Even if they tolerated the pain, they could not echolocate their food. Nor could they echo-navigate the open ocean. They would be acoustically blind. In other words, the entire pod would be in serious trouble if some upheaval of nature generated a series of rapid pressure changes that caught them by surprise during a feeding dive. 

Catching them off guard is an important factor simply because, if they hear a dangerous sound approaching from a distance, they will move away before an injury occurs. It's similar to dolphins swimming away from the sound of killer whales approaching. 

On the other hand, the approaching sound might fool them. For example, suppose a navy sonar boat turns on its transducers for a short period near a pod of beaked whales who aggressively protect their territory. The pod might swim in the direction from which the sound came and prepare to fight off a group of unknown intruders. As they approach nearer to the sonar vessel, suppose the navy blasted the area again with powerful sonar. It does not take but a few seconds to induce deadly sinus barotrauma in a group of diving whales when caught be a surprise too close to a loud sonar beam. Beaked whales are especially vulnerable to navy sonar because they are aggressive and usually scarred up from fighting among themselves.


WHALE DANGEROUS UNDERWATER EARTHQUAKE NOISE HAS BEEN RECORDED 900 MILES FROM THE EPICENTER








Don't believe me? Watch this video! The first sounds traveled a bit faster through the solid seafloor with the noise bleeding into the water above. The last set of vibrations traveled 900 miles through the water and almost destroyed the hydrophones.

Keep in mind that rapid pressure fluctuations during a seaquake (at ~7 cycles per second) are especially dangerous for deep sea divers because the volume of air in their enclosed air spaces rapidly increases and decreases during each second of exposure. On the other hand, bodily tissues, blood, and bones remain the same. During rapid changes in air volume, the fluttering of the air in the sinus cavities causes substantial pressure differentials at the air-filled interfaces inducing shear forces that tear, bruise, and disrupt tissues, membranes, and blood vessels. This type of injury happens because the volume of air inside the cranial air spaces bounces back and forth in lockstep with the external pressure changes. On top of this, each acoustic cycle consists of two different phases. One is positive pressure, and the other is negative pressure. Both phases have equal intensity. One phase is a vacuum; the other is high pressure. This means that when a diving whale is exposed in the near field to the hydroacoustic vibrations from the average undersea earthquake or volcanic explosion, the volume of air in its sinuses will compress and expand 14 times every second.


NOW FOR SOMETHING SHOCKING


Evolution did not correct this vulnerability because sinus injuries helped the species survive and prosper. Pelagic odontocete was so successful several hundred years ago that if there was no mechanism in place to control their numbers. they could have easily overgrazed on the squid breeding stock  Seafloor seismic upheavals served to balance nature by providing this control. In other words, natural seismic upheavals thinned out 5-6 pods every month from a popular feeding area thereby holding the pelagic odontocete at a sustainable balance. This process was not harmful to the species because the injured non-navigating pod would simply swim downstream with the current for 2-3 weeks until their injuries healed and they regained the ability to dive and feed. Since they had no acoustic memory of how to get back to their old feeding grounds, they were forced to find a new habitat, thereby spreading pelagic odontocete species all around the globe. Nature always balances things.


BUT THE SITUATION IS MUCH DIFFERENT TODAY!


Recovery was easy back then because the oceans were overflowing with millions of schools of small fish and squid tightly balled together a foot or so below the surface. The injured pod would huddle in a tight group for protection against sharks and swim blindly downstream. They could spy hop and see birds in front of them diving and feeding on the schools of surface fish. The senior pod members knew diving birds meant that a life-saving meal was just below the surface where the birds were diving. All the seaquake-injured odontocete pods had to do was swim into a packed school with their big mouths wide open and catch a meal every few days. They stayed hydrated and supplied with enough nourishment to sustain them during a 2-3 week recovery period. Evolution was happy with this arrangement because it was a perfect solution; it thinned the over-populated areas while at the same time spreading the species all around the globe.

However, now that the fishing industry has spread their huge nets on every inch of the ocean surface and removed 90% of all the shallow schools on which the seaquake-injured pods needed for recovery, far fewer pods survive today than did a few hundred years back.


IF INJURED WHALES FIND A SCHOOL OF SURFACE FISH EVERY FEW DAYS, THEIR SINUSES WILL HEAL, AND THEY CAN RETURN TO A NORMAL LIFE!


In the days of our great-grandparents, sinus barotrauma usually healed within a few weeks. Evolution's solution to overcrowding on a popular feeding grounds was to allow seaquake injury to simply move a few pods several thousand miles away and force them to find new feeding grounds. However, now with very few schools of surface fish to help them recover, seaquake-induced sinus barotrauma is an extremely deadly injury today. There is only one thing humans can do to save pelagic odontocete: we must decide whether we want to stop eating sardines or protect our whales.

Here is another problem: Barotrauma is the most common injury in scuba diving and no doubt the most common injury in pelagic odontocete that dives to feed 2-3 times every day over the mid-ocean ridges, the most quake and volcanic-prone territory on Earth!


HOW DO WE GET WHALE SCIENTISTS TO BE HONEST?



Marine mammal scientists have never investigated sinus barotrauma as a cause of strandings. Nor have they ever investigated sinuses injuries induced by undersea natural upheavals. This failure to look at the most likely cause of mass beachings is not due to stupidity! They do not investigate undersea upheavals and sinus barotrauma because the injury is identical to the injury caused by undersea explosives, navy sonar, and oil industry airguns.

But how does the US Navy and oil industry induce whale scientists to twist the truth into a knot of confusion? The answer is very simple! These two groups fund 97% of all whale research worldwide. Whale scientists need to protect the source of their funds, just like cancer researchers protected the tobacco industry back in the 1950s when big tobacco paid for all the lung cancer studies. Crooked scientists are everywhere and willing to sell their honor for a few dollars -- this is simply a fact of our times.


WHALE SCIENCE IS FOR SALE!


As an example of the influence money has on research, take a look at a recent book published on the workings of the biosonar system of whales. The title is Hearing by Whales and Dolphins edited by Whitlow W.L. Au, Richard R. Fay. Although the acoustic function of the air sacs and sinuses is mentioned 25 times as being necessary for the working of the biosonar system, the word barotrauma gets one vague mention. I say again--pressure-related sinus barotrauma is no doubt the most common injury in odontocete whales just as it is in human divers. The reason this is true is that the cranial air spaces are the most vulnerable part of any diver's anatomy, and the easiest to heal if provided with nourishment and enough freshwater to keep the immune system in top working order.


THERE IS A SCIENTIFIC COVER-UP!


Try to find a science article explaining barotrauma in the world's most prolific divers. You will not find such injuries discussed anywhere in the scientific literature no matter how long you look. Scientists practice a weird code that allows them to ignore common sense unless some other scientists publish a paper to say that common sense is scientifically sane. No whale scientists have ever published a paper saying barotrauma is a frequent injury to the world's most prolific divers, so other scientists have no evidence to support the concept. This is how "no scientific awareness" becomes the "best scientific information available."


ODONTOCETE HEAR IN FULL STEREO!

Odontocetes have a unique grouping of air sacs situated in the space between their two cochleae. These pockets of air and oily foam serve to isolate/insulate the left, and right organs of hearing from each other in the same fashion as a pair of stereo headphones isolate the sounds entering your left and right ears. If diving whales lose the ability to hear in full stereo, they automatically lose their sense of direction. If they lose their sense of direction, they end up exactly like the whales depicted in the Nat-Geo video at the top of this article!

As I told you before, barotrauma in the cranial air spaces stops them from diving due to pain. If they are not diving to the depth of their natural prey, they are not feeding. Since all their freshwater comes from the food they eat, it is easy to understand why they consistently show up on the beach suffering severe dehydration with only non-digestible squid beaks, a few pieces of floating plastic, maybe a knot of floating rope, and the hard bones of fish ears in their stomachs.

Imagine that a pod of pelagic dolphins is on a deep feeding dive when a natural catastrophic event in a rocky seabed suddenly erupts below them. If the seafloor dances in the vertical plane, the up and down jerking pushes and pulls at the bottom of the water column causing rapid and excessive changes in diving pressures. This means that an entire exposed pod would suffer barosinusitis at the same time.

Since the nursing young do not make the deep feeding dives because their lungs are not fully developed, they would be the only ones not injured. When the injured pod finally reaches the surface, the adults would be as lost as a blind man thrown overboard in the middle of the deepest ocean.

THE DANGER OF SEAQUAKES!


Seaquakes rock big oceangoing trawlers and can quickly wipe out oil tankers so you can safely bet that these events can also injure pods of diving dolphins and whales. If you doubt there is a danger, please read the vessel - seaquake encounters detailed on these two pages (1750 to 1899) (1900 to present).


RAPID AND EXCESSIVE CHANGES IN DIVING PRESSURES



This system of enclosed air spaces is an evolutionary marvel; however, there is an inherent danger when diving to great depths with a head full of compressed air. The tissues, ligaments, and membranes surrounding, attached to, or near these air cavities are susceptible to injury when a series of sudden oscillations in the ambient water pressure causes the volume of the air to fluctuate so rapidly and excessively that it cannot be counterbalanced by the whale's pressure-regulating anatomy. Whales have bundles of blood vessels that lay flattened against the inside of the sinus walls, taking up very little space. When the pressure suddenly increases, and the sinus air in compressed, these blood vessels suddenly engorged themselves to occupy the extra space and prevent a sinus squeeze. The reverse happens when the pressure decreases. However, the amount of blood that can rush in and out of these chambers is limited by the diameter of the blood vessels as they course through bony channels in the skull. This means there are occasions when excessive and rapid pressure vacillations extended in time will overcome this protection. Said differently, the evolved protection is vulnerable to over and under pressures generated during undersea earthquakes, explosive volcanic eruptions, the violent impact of a heavenly body with the water's surface, underwater explosions, military sonar, and oil industry airguns.

These disturbances generate waves of sudden changes in diving pressures that are super hazardous to all divers who venture below the surface with enclosed pockets of air. The list of animals that might be injured includes whales, dolphins, manatees, walruses, penguins, polar bears, fish with swim bladders, sea otters, sea turtles, and human divers.

SEAQUAKE-iNJURED MELON-HEADED WHALES WASHED ASHORE BY HEAVY SURF IN JAPAN

Imagine a pod of pelagic toothed whales or dolphins (odontocetes) feeding on squid above the mid-oceanic ridge system when a violent mid-size earthquake suddenly erupts below them. Not much happens if the seafloor moves from side to side (horizontal) because water will not transfer shearing motion. It's like turning your boat paddle sideways. On the other hand, if the seabed dances vertically, the rapid up and down piston-like motion of the rocky bottom pushes and pulls at the water column, generating powerful low frequency (LF) changes in hydrostatic pressure that travels towards the surface at 1,500 meters per second.


WHALE-DANGEROUS UNDERSEA EARTHQUAKES


Most whale scientists pretend to be clueless when it comes to earthquakes in the seafloor. They do not want to talk about anything that the US Navy and the oil industry (their source of money) does not approve.

They say that quakes of similar magnitude must be equally dangerous, but this is simply not true. The intensity of any changes in water pressure is not so much related to the magnitude as it is to the peak ground acceleration of the shifting seabed and the depth of the quake's focal point below the rock/water interface. The faster the seafloor dances up and down, the greater the pressure changes in the water.

Even more dangerous pressures will enter the water when the focal point of the rupture is only a few kilometers below the rock/water interface. In other words, there are great differences between the danger of seaquakes of equal magnitude.

During events focused less than ~5 km deep, the seismic p-waves reach the rock/water interface long before the energy spreads out and weakens. More so, when focused less than ~5 km, one complete phase of a seismic p-wave is longer than the distance from the focal point to the rock-water interface. This quirk opens a mysterious window NOAA physicist Dr. Oleg Godin calls an anonymous transparency. Seismic p-waves that do not complete one entire phase in the rocky bottom can slip through the rock/water interface without reflection, refraction, or diffraction. Dr. Godin stated that this transparent interface not only exists between water and air but also between the solid seafloor and the water. In other words, undersea earthquakes greater than 4 and less than 6 magnitude can be extremely dangerous if the focal point in near the rock/water interface.

In deeper quakes of greater magnitude, the dancing seafloor becomes like the faceplate of a gigantic sonar transducer 10 miles in diameter. However, unlike military sonar, airguns, and explosives, most of these strong, deeper quakes give off various precursors signals that whales can detect in time to swim hundreds of miles away (link). It could be no other way because strong quakes generate shocks that could kill every whale within 150 miles of the epicenter. As an extreme example, NASA physicists estimated the shock wave of a 7.5 seaquake at 6,000 kilobars (100,000 pounds per square inch) one meter off the seafloor (link).

Odontocete whales could never have thrived along seismically-active ocean ridges unless they were masters at detecting precursors from strong/major earthquakes. These intelligent marine mammals should be able to teach us how to predict major earthquakes weeks before they occur if our scientists would only stop lying about why they strand (Link). Said differently, denying the truth about why whales beach themselves is preventing humans from learning how whales detect major quakes long before they occur. In other words, ignorance of the association between whales and seismic upheavals is no doubt killing thousands of humans every year.


HEARING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SENSE TO WHALES


We know that healthy toothed whales and dolphins use sound to find their way around in the open sea. They produce loud clicks by moving air back and forth within their elaborate nasal air sac system. The lower jaw, in a modified form of bone-conduction, receives the echoes that bounce back from the seafloor. From the jaw, these vibrations are transferred into a fat-filled channel and then carried in acoustic fat to the cochlea (inner ear). The brain then compares the sonogram of the echoes with memory. They know where they are because they were at the same place before.

The intensity of the echoes entering the fat-filled channels depends on the angle of the lower jaw to the source. In the simplest terms, all a toothed whale needs to do to read the returning echo is to scan her head back and forth and up and down until she extracts all the vital data she needs to pinpoint her location. Since the whale focuses the outbound clicks via the oil-filled melon by bouncing sound off the air sinuses, there must be a mechanism to isolate/insulate the two cochleae otherwise the volume of the outgoing clicks would overwhelm the returning echoes.


WHALES HEAR IN STEREO!


This acoustic isolation of the two inner ears is accomplished by surrounding them with a mixture of air and foam contained in a grouping of air sacs called the pterygoid sinuses. The middle ear also has a set of enclosed air spaces that aide echo-navigation. Air works as the perfect sound barrier underwater because the acoustic impedance mismatch between air and water causes water-borne clicks to reflect off the air spaces like light reflected from a mirror.

To drive home the point... air serves not only for acoustic isolation but also to reflect sound in the proper direction to ensure the function of their navigation system. Let something go wrong with the sinuses, or the air sacs and the whales can no longer navigate. Nor can they dive and echolocate their prey. They become lost at sea and unable to feed themselves. Since their fresh water comes from the food they eat, they soon become dehydrated as well as malnourished.

The degree of injury in the internal sinuses and middle-ear air cavities will depend on the percentage of change in the surrounding water pressure coupled with the duration and frequency of the infrasonic waves. The nearer the whales are to the surface, the more danger they face because the percentage of change is greater in shallow water. As an example, imagine a pod of diving whales suddenly exposed to potent oscillating changes in ambient water pressure at ~ten cycles per second while only 10 meters below the surface where the absolute pressure is ~30 pounds per square inch (psi). Suppose a seaquake has induced absolute pressure changes oscillating between ~90 psi above ambient followed by a negative phase ~90 psi below ambient. The air in their enclosed air spaces will suddenly compress to 1/3rd of its normal volume on the positive pressure phase and then expand a microsecond later to 3 times normal volume on the negative pressure (600% change). These changes in air volume will occur maybe ten times per second for up to one minute.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (link) exposed a dead dolphin to shock waves measured at ~10 to ~300 psi. Dr. Darlene Ketten reported (OCEAN MAGAZINE Vol. 47, page 2, 2009):

“Dolphin carcasses can suffer essentially no significant damage in the received range of 10 to 15 psi and significant damage to some organs above 25 psi. At 300 psi, dolphins, well, basically, the dolphins are mush. For comparison, 20 psi is about the pressure a 200-lb. man's shoe heel exerts on a floor when he walks, and a large dog's jaws can produce 400 psi of pressure when it bites."

The above results would not be the same in a living dolphin for two important reasons: (a) the sinuses and air sacs collapse after death so would not be exposed, and (b) an explosion is a split-second exposure as opposed to a seaquake that might last up to one minute. Diving whales might be exposed to 20 seconds of continuing pressure changes during an average undersea quake.

When the sinus membranes tear, air mixed with loose blood will escape into the head forcing the sinuses to close. The membrane might heal in a week or so, but how long would it take the whale to absorb the loose air and blood from his head? The injury might also be in the accessory air pockets of the middle ear, or in many different places within the extensive system of the sinuses and air sacs. It might even be in the nerves. No matter where the injury, the resulting barotrauma will destroy their ability to echo-navigate, and prevent them from diving and feeding themselves. Their recovery would depend on a few chance-encounters with a shallow school of surface fish or squid. Three weeks later they might be able to dive to 20 meters. They might reach 50 meters after another few weeks. Best guess is that the recuperation process will take 60 days depending on the original injury and on whether the injured pod can catch an occasional meal a few feet below the surface.

As mentioned above, recovery would have naturally been much easier a hundred years ago because there was a great abundance of tightly packed schools of surface fish for the injury pods to eat. However, the almost complete removal of this low hanging fruit by the purse seining industry makes recovery extremely difficult.

Non-feeding whales will quickly become dehydrated because all their freshwater comes from the food they eat. Besides the loss of their sense of direction and the loss of their ability to dive and feed themselves, their other problems would be a shark attack, malnutrition, weakened immune response, and severe stress. Other than an attack by sharks, being washed onto a sandy beach by an incoming tide or a strong shoreward wind-driven current would be the second-worst possible outcome for the lost whales.

Unless the whales are fed, hydrated, and treated for their injuries, the rescue teams are not saving whales. But they are doing some good because they are feeding sharks. There are ways to save many of these animals but who is going to spend the money that will be needed?  The only real solution is to ban overfishing by the huge purse-seine fishing trawlers and give the oceans a chance to recover back to the level it was a hundred years ago.

REFERENCES

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