Whale Beaching Mystery Solved

why whales beach
Why Whales Beach: notice the current in the background of this stranding


First, clear your mind of all you’ve heard from whale scientists about why whales beach. Just follow along using your own God-given common sense.

Whales and dolphins have been beaching for ~35 million years.  These cetaceans all have a few things in common. For one, they primarily feed on squid that breeds and lays their eggs along the earthquake/volcanic prone mid-ocean ridge systems. This 40,000-mile-long underwater volcanic mountain range circles our globe like seams on a baseball. Some odontocete species also feed in subduction zones that run along the earthquake volatile continental slopes.

Could feeding in an active earthquake and volcanic area be connected with why whales beach?

why whales beach

The squid odontocete love to eat favor this seismically active volcanic mountain range because the seafloor is warmer and helps to incubate the trillions of eggs they lay annually.

Just like the hoofed animals on the Serengeti plain, toothed whales are just following their food.

Whales that often beach en mass also share other common traits. They are all breath-holding deep divers that emit acoustic clicks underwater to find their food and navigate. These underwater acoustic experts are similar to bats that fly around in the dark. They use echoes to find their food in pitch black depths of the ocean.

Could the loss of echo-navigation due to pressure-related diving accidents explain why whales beach?

When their biosonar fails they are as lost as blind man throw overboard on a dark storm-tossed night! Biosonar failure would indeed explain why whales beach!

Echo-navigation failure in whales and bats!

The big difference between bats and odontocete whales is that bats cannot echolocate underwater and odontoceti cannot echolocate in the air. This is because sound underwater is different from sound in air. Water is 800 times denser than air and sound speed is 4.3 times faster. In fact, the acoustic impedance of water is 3,500 times higher than that of air. This large mismatch in impedance means that a sound wave in water will bounce off pockets of air like a flashlight beam bounces off a mirror.

Would a bat with echolocation failure fly into a wall and kill itself? Would a pod of whales with dysfunctional biosonar get themselves lost? Could this explain why whales beach?


The first odontocete whales evolved from 4 legged canine-like mammals. They had a great sense of smell and a head full of air sinuses. Because their cranial air naturally functioned underwater as an acoustic mirror, evolution used this air to help early whales determine the direction of the sounds of various prey. All they needed to do was stick their heads underwater and waded slowly around in the shallows.

When the first odontocete started swimming underwater ~45 million years ago, evolution began to remodel their cranial sinus cavities so that the air could serve not only as acoustic mirrors but also to insulate, isolate, generate, reflect, focus, and channel returning echo signals to improve their echo-navigation and echolocation system.

Could a pressure-related injury in the cranial air spaces be why whales beach?

air-filled sinuses of an ancient dolphin

Shown above is the air sinuses of a 28 million-year-old dolphin. Shown below are cast made of the nasal passages and sinus complex in the heads of modern odontocete. The objects in the figure represent the actual air spaces. NP, nasal passages; PtS, primary pterygoid sinus; PtS OL, the optic lobe of the pterygoid sinus; PtS ML, the mesial lobe of the pterygoid sinus; MEC, middle ear complex; PmS, premaxillary sac; PaS, constriction of the palatopharyngeal sphincter.

lots of air-filled sinuses in the heads of a modern odontoceti.

Today’s deep-diving whales and dolphins have many pockets of air in their heads. Calling them “airheads” is technically correct. These large cranial air spaces will direct returning echoes around inside their heads in a fashion to make possible a superior echo-navigation and echolocation system. The air sinuses are just as important as their cochlear!

Will leaking air sinuses explain why whales beach?

A head full of air creates a special danger for pods of deep-diving whales. If an undersea quake, volcanic explosion, violent impact with the ocean’s surface by a heavenly body, military sonar, undersea explosions, or oil industry air gun generates a sudden series of excessive changes in diving pressures that overstretched or ruptured the membranes, loose air would leak into the cranial space causing the sinus cavities to collapse. The returning echoes would get misdirected thereby incapacitating their keen acoustic sense of direction and their ability to find their food in the dark.

Does the US Navy know this?

Of course, they know. The are the world’s leading experts on pressure related injuries in divers.  They know an injured pod suffering barosinusitis would be forced to swim to the surface. Each whale would be in great pain and unable to dive again.  Read Whale Stranding Conspiracy!

What did evolution do to fix the problem?

According to a discredited theory of evolution, the intended use of an anatomical structure alters the anatomy; for instance, giraffes evolved longer necks to feed on the leaves of tall trees. By contrast, in Darwinian evolution, accidental genetic mutations that benefited the species spread from one generation to the next as opposed to genetic mutations that reduced survival. In other words, giraffes are able to feed on tall trees because accidental mutations made their necks grow longer and helped them survive.

Said differently, in the rejected theory of evolution, function altered form, but in Darwinian evolution, small variations in form allow some members of a species to better survive their environment and reproduce more successfully.

In other words, odontocete air sinuses were present when early dolphins enter the water’s edge.  Had this not been the case, echo-navigation and echolocation could not have evolved.

Moreover, the cranial air sinuses of the first dolphins were underwater acoustic mirrors from the first day they stuck their heads underwater. That the air bounced sound waves was due to the great impedance mismatch between sound in air and sound in water and flesh. This set the stage for a chain of beneficial genetic mutations that eventually provided these early deep divers with a remarkable biosonar system.

Are pod beachings caused by rapid and excessive changes in diving pressures?

A working biosonar system is why functional air sinuses and air sacs are mandatory in modern toothed whales, and why sinus barotrauma would disable their echo-navigation system, their echolocation of prey, and their ability to dive and feed themselves. This is why pods of whales of stranded whales are always dehydrated with no fresh food in their stomachs. And also why they have been beaching for ~35 million years!

They can still hear by direct stimulation of their cochleas but can no longer determine the direction of the sounds. Of course, damaged cochleas would destroy their echo-navigation and echolocation abilities just as would a barotraumatic sinus injury. In other words, there are two ways we can defeat acoustic navigation and cause an entire pod of toothed whales to beach. The easiest way would be to injure their sinuses—the most fragile part of their acoustic anatomy. To verify this, we need to know how evolution went about protecting both their cochlea and their sinuses.

Protecting the cochlea was easy!

Evolution simply thickened the bone so it could withstand drastic changes in pressure. A whale’s cochlea is as hard as steel. On the other hand, the sinuses present a huge problem because the volume of air held inside fluctuated in direct proportion to the external water pressure. Making the sinus membranes too thick reduced their flexibility during rapidly changing pressures and caused them to rupture more easily.

The only thing evolution could do was keep the sinus membranes thin so they could stretch while working on ways whales could recover from pressure-related sinus injuries. The sinuses were the weak link but they were more likely to heal than a busted cochlea.

Evolution does not think or plan. Rather the process is a series of accidental genetic mutations. If the mutation aids survival, there will be more whales passing along the gene.  If the mutation hinders survival, then the gene will eventually disappear. For example, any gene that might cause whales to commit mass suicide would have long ago vanished from the gene pool. Genetic processes all work toward the survival of the fittest.

Mass stranding odontocete are all deep diving, air-breathing, breathe holding mammals. They dive to feed 2-3 times every day along the most seismically active zones on the planet. This means the greatest danger they face is from rapid and excess changes in diving pressures generated during seafloor seismic upheavals. Meteorites slamming into the water’s surface above them also present a danger. The excessive pressure changes generated during these events can easily damage their sinuses.

Sinus Barotrauma is Common in all Divers!

All divers must always make sure that the internal air pressure in their cranial air spaces is nearly equal to the external water pressure. Otherwise, they will suffer an injury in and around their internal air pockets.

And since a sinus injury will disable odontocete biosonar, they would end up still able to hear sounds but unable to tell the direction from which they came.

The role of surface currents!

Throughout history, pods of whales and dolphins have suffered catastrophic accidents that cause their biosonar system to fail. Since they would lose their acoustic sense of direction, drag forces presented by the prevailing surface currents would turn them and point them head first into the downstream path of least drag. It would be exactly like the wind pointing a weather vane. And, if the sharks don’t get them first, they will eventually swim to a sandy spot.

The reason is simple. The beach magically appears in front of the whales because the current guiding them downstream is the same energy carrying sand to build the beaches in the first place. Where beaches are building, you will see current washing ashore carrying sand, lost whales, seaweeds, and all sorts of flotsam. Where beaches are eroding, you will not see stranded whales, seaweeds, or driftwood. But since surface currents are always changing, we need to know the conditions at the time the whales went ashore.

No fresh food in their stomachs

Because they cannot dive and feed themselves due to busted sinuses, all stranded whales will have no fresh food in their stomachs. Furthermore, because their fresh water comes from the food they eat, they will be super dehydrated.

The fake rescue!

Rescue teams never release beached whales when the current is washing towards shore. They know the whales will just turn around and come back to the beach. Regardless of the whales weakened condition, rescue teams wait until the tide is washing out to sea and then pushed the lost whales back out to deep water and then claim to have “saved another pod while begging for more donations from the hoodwinked public.”

The rescuers know the whales have nothing in their stomachs and suffer severe dehydration but they don’t give the poor starving animals any water or food. They just shove them off the beach when the current is washing out to sea, claiming another successful rescue, and “begging for more donations.”

Yuck…it makes me sick thinking about such a scam. This is why the Deafwhale Society has NEVER asked for or ACCEPTED one dime in donations from anyone. We know the truth will come out one of these days. We do not want our good name stained. The idea that we would be like the lying whale rescue groups makes us want to vomit. If they were truly saving stranding whales, we would praise them. But all they are doing is ripping off the public.

Once the public knows the truth, we have a plan to save whales and will then ask for donations.

On the other hand, the groups that save the seals, sea turtles, sharks, and other marine life do honorable work.

What are the whale scientists doing?

Here’s the shocker! Why can’t the world’s whale scientists figure out why whales beach themselves?   If a sea captain can figure it out, it’s impossible to believe the scientists can not.  The only explanation is that the US Navy and the oil industry are bribing them to cover up the truth.

science-cashThe cover-up becomes obvious when you realize that these two groups are the two worst underwater acoustic polluters in the entire world. Yet, together they contribute 97% of all the grant money spent worldwide to study whales.

Why in God’s name are the two worst acoustic polluters of the marine environment supplying whale scientists with 97% of all their research funds? The answer is as plain as the nose on your face. They furnish 97% of research funds so the whale scientists keep on pretending they have no idea why whales beach.

grant-moneyConsider the necropsies of dead stranded whales. Scientists have cut open 500,000 beached whales and still claim they have no clue why whales beach. So why cut up more whales?  The answer is simple. The grants they get to cut up more whales and dolphins is their payoff to keep their mouths shut!

The US Navy has known the truth for 50 years!

You’re not going to believe this but it is true! The US Navy Maritime Safety Division warned the public back in 1966 that seismic compressional waves (aka; seaquake waves) given off by natural seafloor disturbances were extremely dangerous to marine life and to ships.  The US Navy said in the left column of page 59 of this research article: “MARINE LIFE CAN BE DESTROYED BY A SEAQUAKE.” Since they knew this back in 1966, why didn’t they sponsor a research project to investigate whether seaquakes and undersea volcanic explosions explain why whales beached?

Their 1966 statement that “marine life can be destroyed by a seaquake,” when combined with the fact that US Navy never spent 10 cents to research natural undersea upheavals as the answer to why whales beach would convict the US Navy of a massive cover-up in any court in the world! If they knew it in 1966, they are guilty of a massive cover-up that spans almost 60 years!

The US Navy told us seaquakes could destroy marine life. The Navy even warned us that seafloor upheavals were powerful enough to sink ships. On the last page of the above-linked article they said:

Damaging seaquake: The ship may be thrown about in the water with such force that mast, booms, superstructure, and machinery, as well as the hull, may be damaged. It is possible for seams to be opened to such an extent that flooding cannot be contained and the vessel sinks.  (link to original file)

Oh my goodness!  A seaquake can bust a ship apart. And, this was not the first time a US official had issued a warning. Believe it or not, in November 1941, the Chief of the Seismological Observatory at Fordham University warned US Citizen that a big seaquake near the Azores might have crushed every submarine within 500 miles like an egg (link).”

Holy cow! America’s top earthquake expert warns that a big seaquake could crush submarines so easy!

Prepare for another shocker!

This 1941 prediction came true in 1968. And it came true in the same area where the 1941 quake occurred.

The US Navy was wishing in 1968 that the public had never heard anything about the dangers of seaquakes. They were scampering around trying to destroy all the evidence showing they knew seaquakes could kill marine life and sink ships and submarines. They missed both the 1941 and 1966 articles and this researcher happened to find them.

Here’s why they wanted to destroy this evidence: Two years after they published the 1966 article telling us a seaquake could sink a ship, the nuclear attack submarine USS Scorpion mysteriously vanished in the earthquake-prone waters a few miles south of the Azores, the same area where the 1941 earthquake occurred.

The Navy took pictures of the wreck!

They towed a camera sled back and forth over Scorpion’s wreck site, snapping 10,000 photos. These pictures arrived at Naval Headquarters on 6 November 1968. The evidence convinced the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that a shock wave from an undersea earthquake had indeed sent their $40 million nuclear attack submarine to the bottom. The US Navy had 5 other identical attack submarines built on the same flawed design. They were called skipjacks. What were they going to do with the remaining five? They were facing a terrible crisis that would get all the admirals fired!

You can read the long story here.  The short story is that the USS Scorpion was poorly designed and in pitiful mechanical condition when the admirals sent it on its last mission and they knew it before the nuclear sub even left its home port at Norfolk, Virginia. This turns the accidental sinking by seismic shock waves into the negligent manslaughter of 99 US Navy sailors. Said differently, the US Navy knowingly sent the USS Scorpion on a suicide mission.

The US Navy damn sure don’t want you to learn their stupidity killed 99 sailors. They don’t want anybody talking about seaquakes even today! They needed to cover-up the reckless homicide in case the seaquake connection leaked out.

They decided to pretend they knew nothing about how an earthquake could sink nuclear submarines. To back up their story, they needed to classify as secret or destroy all their earlier seaquake research and create the illusion that they were unaware of any danger. So, on the 15th day of December 1968, in a hush-hush way, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) issued a contract valued at $2,661,808.00 to Scripps Institution in San Diego to study how a seaquake sank the USS Scorpion (link).

Besides the seismic shock waves that knocked off the sub’s starboard dive plane, Scorpion’s maintenance problems were extensive.

The US Navy killed 99 of their own sailors!

Even with a missing dive plane, the sub could have surfaced if its emergency system to blow the water out of its ballast tanks was working. But Scorpion was a wreck looking for a place to crash even before the seaquake shockwave hit it. (Read About the US Navy’s Cover-Up of the Scorpion Sinking).

US Navy orders seaquake hazard charts!

Furthermore, the sinking by a seaquake revealed the flaws in Scorpion’s original hull designed. If Congress found out about these problems, every admiral in the Navy would have been court-martialed and likely sent to the brig. Rather than tell the truth and decommission Scorpion’s five sister ships, the Navy decided to keep them out of seismically hazardous waters until they could retire them without creating a scandal. To do so, they order a SEAQUAKE HAZARD CHART from Scripps so they could direct these flawed submarines around danger zones until they were able to quietly retire the skipjack fleet.

This is why whale scientists sponsored by US Navy grants do not talk about seaquakes or sinus barotrauma in whales! If they did, you’d know why whales beach and the bribery money would stop gushing!

As mentioned above, because the air in their sinuses serves underwater to reflect and focus returning echo-navigation clicks, injuries in their cranial air spaces can easily knock out their biosonar system and prevent them from diving and feeding themselves. This loss of echo-navigation explains why whales beach themselves. The Scorpion affair only proves the US Navy had known the great danger to whales for many decades, maybe all the way back to the 1940’s.

Revealing the truth about the sinking of the USS Scorpion by a seaquake will also lessen the shock of what you read below.

TNT equivalent of seaquakes!

One last point before we move back to whales. the chart below will give the TNT equivalent of an earthquake in the seafloor (ref). My best guess is that the event that sank Scorpion was between magnitude 6.5 and 7.

mag 4.0               1,000 tons     Small Nuclear Weapon
mag 5.0             32,000 tons     TNT Equivalent
mag 5.6           100,000 tons     watch the video of an explosion
mag 6.0         1 million tons     Double Spring Flat, NV Quake, 1994
mag 6.5         5 million tons     Northridge, CA Quake, 1994
mag 7.0       32 million tons     Largest Thermonuclear Weapon
mag 7.5     160 million tons     Landers, CA Quake, 1992
mag 8.0           1 billion tons     San Francisco Quake, 1906
mag 8.5           5 billion tons     Anchorage, Alaska Quake, 1964
mag 9.0         32 billion tons     Chilean Quake, 1960

If you still doubt a seaquake can sink a nuclear submarine, read this article by NASA scientists (link). This team of physicists calculated that a vertical thrusting 7.4 seaquake generates a shock wave at 6 kilobars (100,000 pounds per square inch).

More evidence!

Here’s a science article about an oil tanker destroyed by a seaquake (link). Here’s a story about the US Navy setting off artificial seaquakes at China Lake, California in 1957 (link). In 1962, they were advertising for companies to help them learn how to create and use artificial seaquakes and earthquakes as weapons of war (link).  They were even setting off nuclear explosions in the Van Allen Radiation Belt circling earth just to see what kind of damage they could create. This was really shocking. A few months after Professor Van Allen discovered the radiation belt, the US Navy was blasting away, trying to destroy it. They showed no concern for the human race, let alone the poor whales in the ocean!

There’s another reason the US Navy doesn’t want you to know seaquakes cause whales to beach. The barotraumatic injury from a seaquake is identical to injuries caused by military sonar, underwater explosions, and oil industry air guns. If they show how seaquakes injure whales, they convict themselves, the oil industry, and the crooked whale scientists they bribe!


Here’s a 1908 report by the crew of a sailing vessel that saw 47 dead whales and miles of dead fish after a nasty seafloor earthquake (link) near Cape Horn. This reminds me of the 337 dead baleen whales killed recently by seaquakes west of the southern tip of Chile (link).

More About Why Whales Beach!

Every small boy knows what happens if he submerges his head underwater and smashed two stones together. A solid blow causes pain in and around his sinuses. The boy feels pain for the same reason nearby diving whales, fishes with swim bladders, and sea turtles will feel unimaginably intense torture lasting for a minute or more when a fracture of millions of tons of rock suddenly rips the seabed asunder. This is so because water is not compressible; it transmits the full force of the shattering seafloor.

Underwater earthquake shocks (aka; seaquakes) are not felt as a single blow because the force that causes the intense changes in diving pressures is not one big bang. Rather, the p-waves come as a series of wrenching snaps, as massive rocks, twisted and strained out of shape by forces accumulated slowly over centuries, suddenly lurches back toward an alignment that relieves the stress. The result is that solid rock, which normally moves only with the passing of geological ages, accelerates briefly to 8000 kilometers per hour, unleashing huge quantities of energy and creating a series of violent hydrostatic pressure waves.

If this snap back occurs in a more vertical plane, as happens during both normal and reverse (thrust) faulting, and the hypocenter (focus) is between 8 to 20 km below the rock-water interface, the p-waves will impact the rock-water interface and cause the seabed to dance up and down like the skin of a drum many miles in diameter. This sudden up and down motion pushes and pulls at the bottom of the incompressible water, generating a series of low-frequency changes in the surrounding water pressure that speed towards the surface at 1,500 meters per second.

Seaquakes are dangerous to diving whales!

Sound waves moving through a liquid consist of half cycles of compressions (positive pressure phases) and dilations (negative pressure phases). During the compression phase, the air in the cranial sinuses of a pod of diving whales would rapidly compress. During the dilatational phase, the air inside their heads would instantly expand.

In other words, a pod of whales above the epicenter would experience a series of unimaginable changes in diving pressures that bounce back and forth between positive and negative at an average of ~7 full cycles per second (14 half-cycles or phases). This fluctuating pressure might continue for a minute or more. This means that an entire pod of submerged whales, busy feeding on squid, might be caught off guard and suffer serious barotraumatic injuries in their cranial air spaces, middle ear air spaces, and their lungs. This injury knocks out their acoustic sense of direction and explains why they swim downstream eventually being washed into a sandy area by the incoming tide.

This is not rocket science!

But not all seaquakes cause injury. Jerking movement in the horizontal plane during strike-slip faulting does not normally generate dangerous changes in diving pressures because water is not compressed when the seabed moves parallel to the surface. It’s like rowing your boat with the paddled turned sideways. However, there are instances when quick parallel motion along the drop-off edges of steep undersea mountains, and at junctions where transform faults intersect with mid-ocean ridges, where strike-slip events can push directly against the water. Such situation will indeed generate extreme pressures changes in the water near mountains and at the edge of continental drop offs. During such events, the changes in water pressure will travel horizontally and can easily become trapped in the SOFAR channel and cause injury to deep diving whales hundreds of miles away.

Strike-slip faulting can also generate violent hydroacoustic pressures when the rupture speed along the fault is faster than the speed of the seismic shear waves (S-waves). These super sheer earthquakes actually cause underwater sonic booms.

There are scores of variables to cause seaquakes to be either harmless or deadly.

The size of the average quake that causes mass strandings is ~5.3 magnitude. I believe quakes below <4.5 and above >6.5 do not injure pods of whales because (a) events less than <4.5 are too small, and (b) precursor signals given off before the main shock of all quakes above magnitude >6.5 are easily detected by the whales in time for them to move away.

An anomalous transparency!

There are many other variables to be considered before deciding whether pressure changes during an undersea earthquake might injure an entire pod. For example, when a seismic pressure wave traveling through the Earth encounters the rock-water interface, some of the wave energy will reflect back into the solid and some will refract into the water. However, when the overall length of the p-waves is longer than the distance from the focal point to the rock-water interface, these longitudinal waves enter the water as if there were no rock barrier at all. Said differently, p-waves from earthquakes focused less than ~5 kilometers below the rock-water interface will transfer into the water without distortion or energy loss.

This “anomalous transparency” was recently discovered at the air-water interface (link) (link). When asked if the same transparency existed at the rock-water barrier, Dr. Oleg A. Godin replied in the affirmative. He clearly stated that his findings apply as much to the solid/water boundary as they do to the air/water boundary. This means that quakes as small as magnitude 4.7 might indeed injure pods of diving whales if these events originate less than ~5 km below the rock/water interface. This anomalous transparency was recently confirmed by two researchers working at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division (link).

It’s easy to use dangerous quakes in known odontoceti habitats to predict strandings weeks in advance. However, using depth of focus as criteria is not reliable because the focal depth in the data defaults to 10 km, which is ~4.5 km longer than the average p-wave in warm volcanic rock. Said differently, key data separating what might be a whale-dangerous quake from one that is harmless is not available at this time. Nor can one be sure that whales are present above a particular epicenter.

Whales can detect some earthquake precursors!

Another problem for predicting beachings is that whales can detect pre-quake signals. The problem now is that we do know which signals alert the whales. The second problem is that many whale-dangerous quakes do not emit precursors. This makes predicting strandings even more difficult. Bottom line is that mass stranding predictions are correct only one time out of every ten.

On the other hand, predicting when whales will not strand along a particular shoreline based on the lack of whale-dangerous earthquakes upstream is 95% correct. This prediction would be 100% correct if we knew with certainty whether military sonar was operating in the area. Another cause of injury that we can not predetermine in whether a heavenly body crashed into the sea and caused an injurious pressure pulse near a pod of whales.


It does help predictions to know that seaquakes in only ~ten 100-mile-long segments of the entire 40,000-mile-long mid-ocean ridge system are responsible for ~90% of all mass strandings. In other words, only about 1,000 miles of oceanic faults seem dangerous to diving pods. This might be because these areas are squid breeding grounds, or it might be due to a lack of detectable precursor signals.

It might also be due to something particular in the seafloor itself, such as volcanic hot spots, hydrothermal vents, and other deformities below the seafloor. The point is that there is much to learn before one can accurately predict pod strandings based on seabed earthquakes. However, as mentioned above, predicting when whales will not mass strand based on the lack of upstream earthquakes is rather easy providing there are no military and oil industry operations and no heavenly bodies crashing into the water.

What is known is that the typical shallow earthquake along the mid-ocean ridge system generates a noise level of ~244 decibels (re: 1 mPA). Will ~244 decibels cause auditory/sinus injuries in pods of diving whales? When converted to pounds per square inch, 244 dB equals 220 psi or 15 atmospheres. The energy level drops quickly as the distance between the pod and the seafloor increases. This means that both the depth of the dive and the nearness to the bottom during exposure also determines the injury. Whales near shore in shallow water would be far more vulnerable to a local quake. An example would be the 20 Sei whales recently killed along the Chile Coast. (link)


One should also consider that there will be various degrees of injury. Some pods might suffer slight barosinusitis and recover much sooner than other pods that may not survive long enough to beach themselves.

Drop off edges along continental shelves, and the tall peaks of undersea volcanoes are prime feeding grounds for pelagic odontoceti. Compressions and rarefactions (longitudinal p-waves) coming up these inverted cone shapes from an earthquake at the base of these mountains, or from the continental shelf might be especially dangerous for a diving pod for several reasons. For one, the pod would be closer to the rock-water interface. If so, the anomalous transparency might increase the intensity of such pressure waves. Again, much is still unknown.

Discounting that p-waves from extremely shallow events can pass undisturbed into the water column, the amplitude of the changing pressure in a moderate seaquake is directly related to the rate of acceleration in the seabed coupled with the vertical distance traveled by the upsurging rocky bottom. This is because slower vertical movement allows time for the water to flow horizontally, weakening the pressure pulsations by increasing the circumference of the disturbance.


During a typical shallow magnitude 6 earthquake with lightning fast acceleration, the increase in water pressure might reach ~2,000 psi above ambient one meter off the rocky bottom. When the seabed suddenly snaps back to its undisturbed position, the sudden jerk downward creates a negative pressure pulse called a rarefaction phase.

When the seafloor is dancing rapidly, a series of intense low-frequency (LF) hydroacoustic compressions and decompressions shoot up towards the surface four times faster than sound travels in the air. As mentioned above, the frequency of these pressure changes ranges from -2 to 100 cycles per second (cps), averaging about 7 cps with two phases per cycle for a total of 14 phases.

These seismically generated pressure disturbances were commonly called seaquakes a hundred years ago. Scientists now call them by a confusing mix of non-descriptive names with T-phase waves being the closest fit. It also seems that scientists don’t want the public to know too much about seaquakes. One must often read a hundred scientific articles to find the intensity of these events.


An encounter with a painful noise from a military sonar or oil industry airgun at a great distance does not cause problems for diving whales; they simply swim to the surface and raise their heads out of the water, or they swim off in the opposite direction. On the other hand, the sudden encirclement by a series of rapidly changing ambient pressures (seaquakes) that overwhelm each animal’s ability to compensate is a nightmare come true for a pod of odontoceti down on a feeding dive. Injury to the entire diving pod is inevitable.

The position or angle of the animals, when exposed, is also critical. For example, if the whales were swimming straight down towards the bottom, the increased pressure would roll over them from head to tail. On the other hand, if they spooked and bolted straight up towards the surface, the pressure would roll over them from tail to head. Such a panic move would be far more dangerous because the air in the cranial air spaces would have no avenue of evacuation. On the other hand, the leveled-off position would seem safer during seaquake exposure. Maybe this is why odontoceti always swim towards the bottom and back to the surface at an angle of about 30 degrees?


During seaquake exposure, the volume of air contained in each cranial air space increases and decreases in lockstep with the ongoing external pressure oscillations.  While the size of each cranial air spaces rapidly changes, the size of the nearby non-compressible bones, internal organs, muscles, fat, and blood stays the same. This rapid fluctuation in cranial air volume situated next to stationary anatomical parts establishes shearing forces that can easily induce barosinusitis, barotitis media, labyrinthine fistula, and other pressure-related diving injuries similar to sinus barotrauma, the most common injury in human scuba divers.

The evidence for seismically forced changes in the overall size of the cranial air spaces is found throughout the anatomy of odontoceti. Much evolution has occurred in the attempt to adapt these animals to seismic pressure changes; however, evolution had to make compromises between protecting diving whales from seaquakes and enabling them to dive deeper and acoustically detect their prey in total darkness. Said differently, toughening their sinuses would have altered both their maximum diving depth and their acoustic reception. Much is to be discovered about how seaquakes forced evolutionary adaptations coupled with their ability to detect seismic precursors.


Moreover, the air contained inside the cranial air sacs in the space between and around their two cochlear serves to isolate one inner ear from the other and to reduce the perceived level of the animal’s own echo navigating clicks. This acoustic isolation and insulation of the two ears allow odontoceti to hear independently in each ear.  If stereoscopic reception fails so does their echolocation and echo-navigation. Even a slight interference in one ear would be disastrous for acoustically dependent odontocete because their biosonar system requires two balanced independent receptors.

why whales beach sinus barotrauma
 If you call a beaked whale an airhead, you are technically correct.

Since their cranial air spaces function both underwater as acoustic mirrors and to isolate one cochlea from the other, a simple tear in one sinus or air sac might throw off one ear and easily result in the failure of both echolocation and echo-navigation. 


This researcher is not the first to suggest an injury in the cranial air sinuses and air sacs would knock out their sense of direction.

My friends and first advisers, Professors Kenneth Norris and George Harvey first suggested that healthy cranial air spaces were necessary for echo-navigation in their 1972 paper entitled “A Theory for the Function of the Spermaceti Organ of the Sperm Whale.” (Link to this highly recommended article) Therein, these two famous cetologists state:

“The structure of the two vertically oriented air sacs that bound the ends of the spermaceti organ 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, where food must be located at considerable distances in open water.”

Moreover, on page 20 (chapter 16) of a 1977 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)

It seems that prior to 1977, scientists were trying to understand how a pod of whales might lose their biosonar system. 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)


Whale scientists stopped talking about the idea that whales might suffer echo-navigation failure in the early 1970s. But this researcher could never get the words of Dr. Peter Purves out of his head. “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.” I believed every word Dr. Purves said in 1977. My Seaquake Hypothesis is in total agreement. Seaquake induced barosinusitis would 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 research barotrauma for the answer to why whales beach.

The acoustic purpose of the sinuses was recently confirmed by Drs. Alex Costidis and Sentinel A. Rommel (Link) who 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.”

It is also postulated that fewer pods beached a hundred years ago because the oceans were not so noisy. In my opinion, in a quiet sea, feeding pods could hear micro-quake precursor signals in time to surface and raise their air-filled heads out of the water.


Another reason for the increase in pod strandings is over-fishing by more than 500,000 purse seine fishing vessels that drag huge nets across the surface entrapping schools of sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and other small fish that ball up a few feet below the surface. These schools blanketed the oceans a hundred years ago.

In those days, seaquake-injured pods, unable to dive, could easily feed themselves by swimming down a few feet into one of these schools with their large mouths open wide. Bumping into a tightly packed school of fish every few days would have provided enough nourishment and the fresh water to sustain them during a recovery period that probably lasted ~3 weeks. Once they started to dive again, they would be forced to find a new feeding grounds, spreading their species all around the globe. As it stands now, with very few schools of surface fish to help them recover, seaquakes alone might eventually cause the collapse of pelagic odontoceti populations.

Click here to read a more about barotraumatic navigation failure in pods of pelagic odontoceti.


Watch this short Nat-Geo video: Notice the NOAA whale scientists suggesting that a healthy pod follows a sick one to the shore because they are so much in love with each other. This is US Navy propaganda designed to keep you in the dark.

The announcer closes by asking, “What could have possibly disoriented them?”

I have shown you above how they lose their sense of direction. Now I will show you how lost pods of seaquake-injured pelagic whales consistently swim from the point of injury to a beach. I consider this seemingly impossible feat to be the second most important clue to unraveling the mystery of why whales beach.

Watch this video in which two Myth-busters blindfold themselves and try to swim across a calm lake. This is not a river where water flows downstream. This is a lake where water might flow in any direction depending on the wind. The film simply shows how impossible it is to maintain a straight course without having a stationary focus point some distance away from the swimmer. Said differently, to swim a straight line in a current, you need to fix your eyes on something stationary in the distance.

But understanding how impossible it is to swim a straight line if you are blind does not show how seaquake-injured pods swim several thousand miles from their offshore feeding grounds and consistently land on sandy beaches.


But before we explain which way pods of lost whales and dolphins might swim we need to consider several facts:

(1) The busted sinuses that cause the pods to mass strand also prevent them from diving and feeding themselves due to great pain. Even if they could dive, acoustically locating squid and fish in the dark waters of the deep sea would still be impossible.  The evidence that they are not diving and feeding is found in every necropsy done on mass stranded whales.

Every time the scientists cut open their stomachs, all they find is indigestible squid beaks, hard ear bones of fish, and maybe the plastic they’ve mistakenly eaten since their injury. And since their fresh water comes only from the fish and squid they eat, the severe dehydration found in each pod member is additional evidence that they had not been feeding for weeks. To counter the obvious, whale scientists falsely claim that they vomit before going ashore. But no one has seen such behavior. Furthermore, if they did vomit, the squid beaks and fish ear bones would come up with the vomitus. You can’t vomit fresh food and leave only the indigestible scraps in your stomach.

(2) The eyes of the pilot and false killer whales, the most frequent mass stranded pods, are set on the side and not the front of their heads. They cannot see directly in front of them, which explains why they use biosonar exclusively in navigation and finding fish in the dark. On the other hand, dolphins with pointed beaks have a little better eyesight looking forward. The question is why don’t they use their eyesight to stay out of the unsafe pounding surf zone?

Several answers come to mind. For one, the average beaching does not occur until ~3 weeks after the suspicious barotraumatic injury. It is likely that they could avoid a beaching at first by using their eyes (spy hopping). But with the combination of severe dehydration and vitamin depletion weakening their eyesight, they would not be able to see any great distance, especially at night. The available research indicates that physical, visuomotor, psychomotor, and cognitive performance occurs when 2% or more of body weight is lost due to lack of fresh water.

Eyesight would also fail as they neared a rough surf zone where breaking waves inject a lot of sand and bubbles into the water. It is also thought that the eyesight of a vitamin-depleted, dehydrated odontoceti would be of little value in staying off the beach at night, especially during a rough sea. This might explain why the first visitors to a beach in the early morning discover most stranded pods, and usually at the high-tide mark.

Now imagine you are wearing a blindfold, walking in an open field during a hurricane. Without a visual marker to focus on, you would soon be walking downwind in the path of least resistance. This especially applies to water because it is 800 denser than air. Swimming blind head first into a 3-knot current is about the same as walking blindfolded straight into hurricane force 5 winds.

But let’s be a bit more scientific. We know from Newton’s first law that our pod requires thrust to move through calm waters. If thrust was the only force applied, a lost pod would continuously gain speed. However, this never happens because thrust is always countered by drag forces that push back against any forward movement. The faster a pod swims in a calm sea, the greater becomes the drag force trying to slow them down.

But rarely are the surface currents calm, so we must consider the difference between swimming downstream and swimming upstream. If the current flows in the same direction a pod is swimming, there are no drag forces. This makes it easy for them to swim downstream. On the other hand, if our pod is swimming upstream against the flow, drag forces increase dramatically. Since our lost pod has no guidance system or visual marker to focus on, they will never be able to hold an upstream compass heading against the increasing drag forces. Bottom line is that drag, without our acoustically blind pod even knowing it, will turn them and point them downstream in the path of the fastest moving current. (Read this article confirming that surface currents guide beached whales ashore.)

In fact, the drag force will constantly keep a lost pod swimming downstream inside the fastest moving filament of current. Said differently, if lost whales swim in a major current, like the Gulf Stream, the flow will guide them into the fast lane. They would also be carried close to land if a fast-moving filament of current spins off from the mainstream and moves inshore.


One can tell when these filaments spin-off by observing the color change in coastal waters. The waters near the beach become a much deeper, cleaner-looking blue. You can often spot the blue water at mass beachings if you arrive soon after the event occurs. The near shore water will be clouded with sand and bubbles so you need to look a few miles offshore for the first color change.

why whales beach in rough surf
Perfect whale beaching conditions.

Thus, the reason why whales beach is really quite simple. A lost pod goes ashore only when the current guides them into the sand at the same time the tidal flow is washing in and the wind is blowing towards shore. The beach will look a lot like the one on the right. Such conditions make perfect stranding weather. But don’t take my word for it. Become a mass stranding investigator and confirm the oceanic condition during beachings by watching videos taken early during a stranding. You also need to record the local tide data, surface currents, rip tides, and etc. Here are a few videos showing wind and weather condition that favor strandings.   (link)   (link)  (link)   (link)

For obvious reasons, whale scientists, supported by grants from the US Navy and oil industry, usually don’t mention the flow of the surface currents, wind direction and speed, a finger of intruding offshore water, times of the high and low tides, rip currents, alongshore currents, height of the breaking waves in surf zone, estimated time of the actual stranding, offshore weather over the last few days prior to the beaching, or any other data that could be used to determine the flow of the surface currents. In fact, they avoid any discussion of surface currents. Obviously, the only reason to ignore the most important data at a mass stranding is to cover-up the mystery of why whales beach for those furnishing the money.


Observations forged science and form concepts, but concepts cannot be accepted unless they explain all the consistent observations. Thus, the mystery of why whales beach themselves cannot be resolved without accounting for everything we see during a stranding event. No consistent observation can be left unexplained.

Look at this video. See the seaweeds washed ashore during the recent heavy incoming seas. Listen to the wind. Look at waves breaking ashore. You must realize that the strong inflow of the currents guided these “LOST” whales ashore. Obviously, they were lost at sea for quite a long period before they reached the beach. 

why whales beach flat calm beach
Whales never beach during a calm sea because there is no surface current to guide them to the sand.

Here’s a fact you can easily verify without the help of whale scientists. Whales never strand when there is no shoreward flow as you see in the picture on the left. The point here is that if you prove to yourself that beached whales and dolphins are always swimming with the flow of the surface currents when they go ashore, then you have also proven that they have no sense of direction whatsoever.

NO SENSE OF DIRECTION is the final key to unraveling the centuries-old mystery of why whales beach.  Refusing to acknowledge the obvious fact that stranded whales and dolphins (dead or alive) always swim with the surface currents is the main reason whale scientists never solved the mystery and why a sea captain was able to do so. Ignoring the tide charts, rip currents, and etcetera is not good science. It’s just too easy to see with your own eyes when you know the truth prior to making observations. I can glance out across a body of water and tell you in seconds which way the water is flowing.

Always swimming downstream with the flow of the surface currents proves the biosonar failure in mass beached whales and dolphins.

why whales beach in Cape Cod Bay
The perfect sand trap catches sand and lost whales swimming with the flow.

Geographical land masses that extended out to sea with a hook shape, opposing the flow of the usual surface current, like Cape Cod in the USA and Golden Bay in New Zealand, are natural sand traps because the current is the same energy that carries each grain of sand to build and maintain a beach. It’s a no-brainer. Hooked-shaped land masses that oppose the general flow trap both sand and lost whales swimming downstream.


I say this again to hammer home the point: it is the same no matter where you look. Any land mass that opposes the general flow of the current will trap sand, lost whales (dead or alive), seaweeds, logs, and other floating trash.

The video above shows a pod of lost pilot whales being released on the Scottish Coast. The timing for the release is wrong because the surface currents and wind is still washing shoreward. The rescuers are lining the whales up to be release as soon as the tidal flow starts to move offshore. But one whale breaks away from his team of handlers too soon and starts swimming away on his own. Since he has no sense of direction, he immediately turns around and heads back toward the rocks. The rescuers scream and yell and try to scare him away from the danger. Obviously, this poor whale has no idea where to swim.

why whales beach on rocky shores
Gale-force winds cause strong shoreward flow that guides lost whales into rocky shores.

On rare occasion, when storms generate an extraordinary strong shoreward flow, a lost pod gets washed with the flow into a rocky coast. Or, they might get drawn into a backwater lagoon through an inlet by water rushing in during a rising tide. Once inside the shallow backwater lagoons, lost whales would mill around until their bellies touch the muddy bottom. They would then find it difficult to raise up high enough to spyhop the channel. They would be left stuck in the mud at low tide, which is exactly what happens.

More Proof

If pushed from the beach when the surface currents are flowing in towards the sand, as seen in the video above, the incoming current will turn non-navigating whales and dolphins and point them back to the beach, which is also exactly what has gone on ever since man started pushing them back out to deep water. Rescue teams have learned thru trial and error that they must release acoustically blind whales only when the tidal current is flowing out to sea.

They usually move the whales off the beach and then hold them there until the falling tide starts washing out. Sometimes they release too soon or the whales break away from their grip. When this happens, the poor whale starts swimming fast and just turns around and heads back to shore. If there are nearby rocks, the ACOUSTICALLY BLIND WHALES continuously bang into them in a BLIND craze. I have never seen a video that offers more PROOF of lost echo-navigation any better than the one above. Please watch it again!

On the other hand, when the weather kicks up a strong shoreward wind that overpowers the tidal flow back out to sea, waiting for the tide to drop before releasing the whales will not work. Re-floating in such conditions is impossible, and the rescue teams know it, so they inject them with a deadly substance or shoot them in the head as revealed in the video below:

You don’t have to cut the whales open to see the truth. The fact that beached odontoceti cannot swim out to deep water when the surface currents are washing shoreward is SOLID PROOF OF BIOSONAR FAILURE. As mentioned above, rescue teams know by trial and error that there is no hope for a successful release during a strong shoreward flow. Whales with dysfunctional biosonar cannot swim against even into a slight current, let alone heavy breakers. It’s like asking a blind man to swim upstream against a strong flow. It cannot be done and the rescue teams know it.

I repeat… it is easily verifiable that beached whales always swim downstream with the flow of the surface current. This is unmistakable evidence of biosonar failure. Furthermore, natural catastrophic upheavals in their backyard in the most logical explanation. Pressure-related sinus barotrauma fits with the million-year history of mass strandings. This barosinusitis is caused by seaquakes, volcanic explosions (see recent example), navy sonar, oil industry air guns, and the rare time when a heavenly body slams into the ocean’s surface near a pod of whales.


One nonsensical excuse they use to explain why whales beach is that healthy toothed whales go ashore during heavy seas because the incoming waves kick up the sand causing acoustic interference with their biosonar signals. Or, when the sea is not so rough, scientists say the reason why whales beach in because their biosonar does not work on a gradually sloping beach.

We can easily refute both sides. Odontoceti species are intelligent animals that have evolved for 55 million years in our oceans. They would have learned many millions of years ago not to swim near a beach when the waves kicked up the sand and block both their eyesight and their echo-navigation. Toothed whales are just not that stupid. Dolphins will not even jump over a rope floating on the surface in a calm pool because it distorts their biosonar. They would NEVER swim into water filled with sand or air bubbles.

Dolphins have thrived for million of years in stormy seas—they hear the breaking waves coming from 10 miles away. These aquatic animals know instinctively to swim to deeper offshore waters before a storm pushes them ashore. They know to avoid shallow beaches until the weather improves. If they didn’t, they would have gone the way of the Dodo Bird a long time ago. The only reason you will see them near shore during heavy seas is when their biosonar system is no longer working.

Healthy dolphins know how to have fun offshore during heavy seas.

why whales ceach
Dolphins love the rough seas as long as the water is clear and their biosonar is working.
why whales beach
Biosonar works great in rough seas as long as the water is free of bubbles and sand.

Explaining strandings by saying sand, bubbles, and a sloping beach blocks their sonar, scientists are admitting that biosonar failure is the cause of strandings.

The question is: why do they blame sand, bubbles, and a sloping beach for disabling their sonar while excluding other more obvious causes such as cochlear deafness and sinus barotrauma?

Why do whale scientists NEVER mention barosinusitis in toothed whales? These sea mammals have massive air sinuses and are the most prolific deep sea divers the world will ever know. I find it impossible to believe that scientists have never considered a diving-related pressure injury. To me, thinking whales never suffer sinus injuries is like thinking humans never stumped a toe or broke a leg.

why whales beach
Rough inflowing seas wash a pod of lost melon-headed whales ashore in Japan.

Study the picture above and the one at the top of this web page. Notice the raging sea in the background. You can tell there is a strong shoreward wind setting up the breaking waves. You can also tell that the incoming tide washed the whales up the beach during high tide and left them in the sand when the tide dropped. If they had a working biosonar, why didn’t they just turn around at high tide and swim back to deep water? Obviously, the biosonar systems of the entire pod failed. This is why whales beach!

We Can Save Stranded Whales and Dolphins

We can rehabilitate stranded pods if we protected them from sharks for 3-4 weeks, given them plenty of fresh fluids, and fed them lots of fish and squid. The question is will governments spend the money? Or, are they happy when the rescue groups push the poor whales out to the waiting sharks while pretending to save them?

Has Anything Changed Over the Last 200 Years?

why whales beach
30-million-year-old toothed whale hunting fish.


Yes! A few hundred years ago undersea earthquakes might have served an important evolutionary purpose. There was an overabundance of pods feeding along sections of the mid-ocean ridge 200 years ago. They could easily overgraze and deplete the local squid breeding stock. For this reason, the removal of a few pods every so often by a seaquake was an evolutionary advantage.

Since the seaquake knocked out their biosonar, they had no acoustical memory to get back to their old feeding grounds. They had to find new habitat. This meant that seaquakes served evolution by thinning the pods while at the same time spreading them around the world.

This was also a time when drive fisheries for small whales increased. They did little damage at first because plenty of wounded pods were looking for a new habitat. Then oceanic trawlers began removing the massive schools of small fish that the whales relied on for recovery. As the surface schools became depleted, more pods failed to recover. Pod sizes slowly got smaller. Seaquakes alone now threatens to eliminate the breeding stock. If this happens, pelagic toothed whales will become extinct.

What Can we do to Change Things?

Anecdotal evidence convinces me that many whale species can detect earthquake precursors. We should be able to duplicate the precursors they frighten them. If so, we can cause whales to flee areas before the start of sonar and/or commercial operations. We might even learn how whales predict major earthquakes weeks in advance and save thousands of human lives every year.

But it’s gonna be difficult to get the US Navy to agree on such a plan. They only want to cover-up why whales beach. As mentioned above, they fund, along with the oil industry, 97% of all whale research worldwide. Whale scientists must do and say what these two groups want if they expect to get funding. In other words, they have to lie or find another job.

Capt. David Williams
Deafwhale Society (the oldest whale conservation group in the world).
Our only mission has been to understand why whales beach.


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