Beached whale

From Academic Kids

A beached whale is a whale which has become stranded on land, usually on a beach. Beaching is often fatal for whales, as they become dehydrated and die. Some die when their lungs are suffocated under their own weight or drown when high tides cover their blowholes. Humans sometimes try to save beached whales; however, such efforts are not always successful.

Causes

The cause of beaching is not definitely known; but, there is some evidence that anti-submarine warfare sonar and other underwater noises (such as those emitted from oil drills) are of a sufficient intensity to cause the whales to surface too rapidly -- the whales then suffer haemorrhaging and decompression sickness, due to rapid pressure change.

It's also sometimes theorized that at least some of these beachings are suicide attempts by the whales. Those theories are usually based on the assumption that whales are highly intelligent animals, capable of planning its own death to (say) end some suffering, or even manifesting religious-like behaviors, like belief in an afterlife.

Carcass

After a beached whale dies, they can become sources of disease and pollution; as they are very large, such corpses are difficult to move — there are reports of some cases where humans tried to blow up the carcass with explosives, with predictable side effects to spectators.

A whale carcass should not be consumed. In 2002, fourteen Alaskans ate muktuk (whale blubber) from a beached whale, and eight of them developed symptoms of botulism, two of them requiring mechanical ventilation [1] (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5202a2.htm). This is of course a problem in common with any spoiled meat, or meat taken from an already-dead animal.

See also

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