THE ANSWER TO WHY WHALES BEACH THEMSELVES:
by Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society, Inc
Please visit http://deafwhale.blogspot.com/ to read about the actual earthquakes responsible for latest beachings.
Shallow earthquakes in the seafloor, underwater explosions, violent impacts of heavenly bodies with the water's surface, military sonar, seismic airguns, and explosive volcanic eruptions induce rapid and excessive changes in the surrounding water pressure that often exceed the limits of the whales' pressure regulating anatomy. The most vulnerable parts of diving whale during excessive changes in water pressure are the air sinuses, the air sacs, and middle-ear air cavities inside the animal's head.
This is the least, yet most deadly injury a diving could receive because the air contained inside it's head is used underwater as acoustic mirrors, reflecting and channeling sound in such a fashion to enable echonavigation and echolocation. If these air cavities suffer a barotraumatic injury due to rapid changing pressures, returning echoes will not be properly reflected and channeled and the whale's acoustic navigation system fails. After such an injury, the whales are as lost as a blind man cast adrift in a row boat.
Barotrauma is the most common accident in scuba diving. To imagine that a toothed whale, the most prolific diver Earth has ever known, would not suffer barotrauma if exposed to a series of powerful changes in ambient water pressure during an undersea earthquake is just plain ignorant, especially considering that out of the 500,000 annual earthquakes, 450,000 of them occur in the backyard of the species of whales always mass beaching themselves.
BAROTRAUMA IN THE AIR SINUSES IS A DIVING WHALE'S WORSE NIGHTMARE COME TRUE!
If you called a whale and airhead, you'd be right. Thirty percent of their cranial volume is air. On the right is the posterior view of the anatomic components in the adult male beaked whale's head. The posterior third (‘‘pan bone’’) of the bony mandibles (white) are so thin that light and biosonar sounds can pass through them by an as yet undescribed mechanism. The internal mandibular fat bodies (MFB; yellow) ﬁll the hollow region within the lower jaw and terminate on two lateral aspects of tympanoperiotic complexes (TPC; red). The air-ﬁlled pterygoid sinuses (cyan) are large and may serve as reservoirs to feed the maxillary sinuses (Dodger blue); the peribullary sinuses (blue), which form acoustic shields to isolate the TPCs from one another; as well as air for the tympanic cavity around the ossicles.
The latest detail accounting of the importance and complexity of the air sinuses was published online in July 2012 (link). To understand the complexity of the sinuses, readers are advised to visit this web site and at least examine the graphics.
The easiest article to read for the novice in the Acoustic Function of the Air Sacs that appears on page 362 of a 1966 book edited by Kenneth Norris, Professor of Cetology at the University of California (link).
The basis of the Deafwhale Society's Seaquake Hypothesis to explain why whales beach is very simple. They encountered, likely during a feeding dive, a powerful and rapid series of changes in the ambient water pressure that exceed their capacity to counterbalance. In keeping with Boyle's Gas Law, external pressure changes cause equally changes in the volume of air in their enclosed air spaces, thereby inducing a barotraumatic injury inside the cranial air space of their head. This injury knocks out their ability to dive and feed themselves and navigate the open sea. They are as lost at sea as a blind man floating on a log.
In the next few pages we will show how barotrauma in the sinuses and/or middle-ear air cavities causes identical behavior to that observed in stranded whales, both before they go ashore and after they are set free. We will also show how barotrauma not only fits all consistent observations, it answers every aspect of this ancient mystery with ease.
The one thing we can not show you is evidence of barotrauma uncovered during a necropsy because there are no reports confirming or denying barotraumatic injury. This is so because the US Navy and the oil industry, who sponsor 95% of all whale research, do not want barotrauma associated with beached whales because they are afraid they will be blamed.
In fact, if you Google Search barotrauma in whales and dolphins, you will find only one research paper (link). Therein, Dr. Darlene Ketten confirms a total lack of available scientific information on barotrauma. She says, ". . . scientists have no knowledge of what auditory structural adaptations whales and dolphins evolved to endure rapidly changing pressures."
Considering all the undersea earthquakes, explosive volcanic eruptions, explosions, oil industry airgun blast, and active military sonar, it's impossible to imagine how the whales might avoid barotrauma. On the other hand, since Dr. Darlene Ketten states flatly that scientists know nothing about barotrauma, and since whale experts have failed to unravel the centuries-old mystery of strandings, then barotrauma might very well be the answer simply because it has never been ruled out. As strange as it may seem, undersea earthquakes as a cause of barotrauma in diving whales has also never been investigated.One other fact has been overlooked... when whales re-beach themselves after been pushed back out to sea. The second beaching site is always downstream from the first. Said differently, after a whale is pushed from the beach, it always swims downstream with the flow of the current. Why? The answer is very simple. If you have no sense of direction and start swimming in a current, the current will turn you and point you downstream in the path of least drag. This is so because water is 700 times denser than air. To swim upstream into the flow, you must have your eye on a distant land mark and struggle to swim towards it. Close your eyes and continue to swim and the current turns you around within 15 seconds and sends you downstream.
As a result of a barotraumatic injury inside their heads, the beached whales have no sense of direction. Those that rescue whales have learned that if released into an incoming current or rising tide, the whales will just turn around and come right back to the beach. This is why they release them with the outgoing tide. The flow of the water away from the beach guides the whale out to sea and makes rescues appear successful.
The evidence is crystal clear... all stranded whales and dolphins are swimming with the flow of the surface currents long before they go ashore. This is easy to verify... just look at these videos and notice the wind and seas rolling in from offshore. (video1) (video2) (video3) (video4) (video5) (video6) (video7) (video8) (video9) (video10) (video 11) (video12) (video 13) (video 14) (video 15) (video16) (video17) This proves they are not swimming upstream against the flow; they are swimming downstream when they go ashore.
Surface currents determines the beach, not the whales. Current is the energy that carried each grain of sand to build the beach in the first place and is the same energy carrying the lost whales thereto.
But again, scientists have not published a single document acknowledging that whales are going with the flow when they run aground. No research into barotrauma and no research into undersea earthquakes as a cause of injury in whales.
If there's no proof, how is the Deafwhale Society going to show that earthquake-induce barotrauma is the major cause of strandings and that surface current is the energy that delivers the lost whales to the beach? Lucky for us, we can use scientific modeling. In other words, if we can show overwhelming evidence that the behavior expected from barotraumatized whales and dolphins matches exactly with the behavior observed from stranded animals both before they beach and afterwards, then we have strong associations. Furthermore, if we can show that whales beach themselves on average about 26 days after an upstream earthquake and on average 2,300 hundred nautical miles downstream then we have a good theory.Its a cold hard fact, a barotraumatic pressure injury in the sinuses will not only destroy the whale's echo-navigation system, but make it impossible for the animal to dive and feed itself. This fits perfectly with the fact that most stranded whales are dehydrated with no fresh food in their stomachs. How they going to dive and feed with busted sinuses?
Since scientists have already proven that healthy cranial air pockets are crucial to echo-navigation and diving, all we need to prove is whether whales with no sense of direction will often swim into a sandy beach.
To create our model, imagine that a volcano suddenly explodes near a pod of whales on a feeding dive. Suppose this explosion generated a series of rapid and excessive pressure changes too intense for the pressure-regulating anatomy of the whales to counterbalance. The excessive changes in the surrounding water pressure knocks out their air sacs and sinuses. They swim to the surface. They can't dive much deeper than a few meters due to intense pain, and they can no longer send navigating signals or receive any navigating echos because the acoustic reflectors in their heads are now likely filled with blood and are no longer reflecting. In other words, they can't dive and they can't navigate. They're fearful and they huddle together for protection against nearby predators. If they remained bobbing up and down in the water, which way will they float?
The answer is downstream with the surface current. Even a 5th grader knows that something floating dead in the water always floats downstream—it's the path of least drag (resistance).
Now lets assume they huddle in a tight group and float downstream for a couple of miles. A few of the worst injured are bleeding from the ear canals and maybe even spitting up blood draining from their eustachian tubes. Big oceanic sharks heard the volcano explode—it sounded like a dinner bell to them. They move in and start circling the pod. The pod starts to swim away from the sharks. Since in our model, they have no sense of direction on their own, which way will they swim and why?
The answer is simple. Lost whales will always swim downstream with the surface current, but would they end their journey on a beach?
The answer is YES! They would be guided by the surface currents to beaches because the energy guiding them, is the same energy that transports each grain of sand to build the beach in the first place. Where current washes ashore, there is a sandy beach. Where current does not wash ashore, there is a mud flat or a rocky coast. Lost, non-navigating whales/dolphins swimming with the flow are a hundred times more likely to be guided to a beach that is building, and not to one that is eroding.
They are also far more likely to strand when the wind is blowing shoreward and the surface waves exhibit white caps. Whales NEVER strand when the beach is flat clam like the picture on the right. Now look at the all pictures above and you'll see real stranding weather.NEXT PAGE>>
keywords: odontoceti, strandings, earthquakes, t-waves, toothed whales and dolphins, barotrauma, beachings
Aroyan, J. L. (2001). “Three-dimensional modeling of hearing in Delphinus delphis,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 110 (6), 3305–3318.
Aroyan, J. L., Cranford, T. W., Kent, J., and Norris, K. S. (1992). “Computer Modeling of Acoustic Beam Formation In Delphinus delphis,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 92 (5), 2539–2545.
Balcomb, K. C. III and Claridge, D. E. (2003). “A mass stranding of cetaceans caused by naval sonar in the Bahamas,” Bahamas J. Sci. 2, 2–12.
Brill, R. L., and Harder, P. J. (1991). “The effects of attenuating returning echolocation signals at the lower jaw of a dolphin Tursiops truncatus,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 89, 2851–2857.
Cox, T. M., Ragen, T. J., Read, A. J., Vos, E., Baird, R. W., Balcomb, K., Barlow, J., Caldwell, J., Cranford, T., Crum, L., D’Amico, A., D’Spain, G., Fernández, A., Finneran, J., Gentry, R., Gerth, W., Gulland, F., Hildebrand, J., Houser, D., Hullar, T., Jepson, P. D., Ketten, D., MacLeod, C, D., Miller, P., Moore, S., Mountain, D., Palka, D., Ponganis, P., Rommel, S., Rowles, T., Taylor, B., Tyack, P., Wartzok, D., Gisiner, R., Mead, J., and Benner, L. (2004). “Understanding the Impacts of Anthropogenic Sound on Beaked Whales,” J. Cetacean Res. Manage. 7 (3), 177–187
Cranford, T. W. (1988). “The anatomy of acoustic structures in the spinner dolphin forehead as shown by X-ray computed tomography and computer graphics,” in: Animal Sonar: Processes and Performance, P. E. Nachtigall and P. W. B. Moore, eds., (Plenum, New York) pp. 67–77.
Cranford, T. W. and Amundin, M. E. (2003). “Biosonar Pulse Production in Odontocetes: The State of Our Knowledge,” in Echolocation in Bats and Dolphins, J. A. Thomas, C. F. Moss, and M. Vater, eds. (The University of Chicago, Chicago) pp. 27–35.
Cranford, T. W., Amundin, M., and Norris, K. S. (1996). “Functional morphology and homology in the odontocete nasal complex: Implications for sound generation,” J. Morphol. 228, 223–285.
Ted W. Cranford et al (2008) Anatomic Geometry of Sound Transmission and Reception in Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris) The Anatomical Record 291:353–378 (2008)
Cudahy, E. A., Hanson, E., and Fothergill, D. (1999). “Summary on the bioeffects of low-frequency waterborne sound,” in Technical Report 3, Environmental impact statement for surveillance towed array Sensor system low-frequency active (SURTASS LFA) sonar.
Finneran, J. J. (2003). “Whole-lung resonance in a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and white whale (Delphinapterus leucas),” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 114 (1), 529–535.
Frantzis, A. (1998). “Does acoustic testing strand whales?,” Nature (London) 329, 29.
Fraser, F. C. and Purves, P. E. (1960). “Hearing in cetaceans: Evolution of the accessory air sacs and the structure and function of the outer and middle ear in recent cetaceans,” Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology 8, 1–140.
Garner, E., Lakes, R., Lee, T., Swan, C., and Brand, R. (2000). “Viscoelastic dissipation in compact bone: Implications for stress-induced fluid flow in bone,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 122 (2), 166–172.
Hildebrand, J. A. (2005). “Impacts of Anthropogenic Sound” in Marine Mammal Research: Conservation beyond Crisis, J. E. Reynolds et al., eds. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland).
Myers, M. R. (2004). “Transient temperature rise due to ultrasound absorption at a bone/soft-tissue interface,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 115 (6), 2887–2891.
NOAA (2001). “Joint Interim Report Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Event of 14-16” March 2000. Washington, D.C., US Department of Commerce and US Navy, available at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prof-res/overview/Interim-Bahamas-Report.pdf.
Norris, K. S. (1964). “Some problems of echolocation in cetaceans.” in Marine Bio-acoustics W. N. Tavolga, ed (Pergamon Press, New York) pp. 317–336.
Rommel, S. A., Costidis, A. M., Fernandez, A. J. F., Jepson, P. D., Pabst, D. A., McLellan, W. A., Houser, D. S., Cranford, T. W., van Helden, A. L., Allen, D. M., and Barros, N. B. “Elements of beaked whale anatomy and diving physiology, and some hypothetical causes of sonar-related stranding,” J. Cetacean Res. Manage., in press.
Soldevilla, M. S., McKenna, M. E., Wiggins, S. M., Shadwick, R. E., Cranford, T. W., and Hildebrand, J. A. (2005). “Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) head tissues: Physical properties and CT imaging,” J. Exp. Biol., 208 (12), 2319–2332.
Sunderland, S. (1978). Nerves and nerve injuries, 2nd ed. (Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh).
Wagner, M., Gaul, L., and Dumont, N. A. (2004). “The hybrid boundary element method in structural acoustics,” Z. Angew. Math. Mech. 84, No. 12, 780–796.
Copyright @ 1971 thru 2013: This material is the copyrighted intellectual creation of Capt David Williams. The reproduction and use of part or all of this intellectual creation in any form, including film, is strictly prohibited. In particular, no part of these web pages may be distributed or copied for any commercial purpose. No part of this intellectual property may be reproduced on or transmitted to or stored in any other website, or in any other form of electronic retrieval system or used in any film or book; however, you may link to this website without permission. Reference this web page as the source when quoting. Send email to request other uses. email@example.com