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So here’s a test

Most of those that have washed up recently are humpback whales. Their haunting songs, released on an iconic 1970 album during the same year as the very first Earth Day, became a soundtrack for the early environmental movement and “save the whales” campaigns.

Since 2016, so many humpbacks have died that NOAA declared an “unusual mortality event” (UME) along the Atlantic coast. There have been 191 humpback whale beachings since then; all but 10 of them died, and the UME still hasn’t ended.

OK. They’re blaming ship strikes for this.


So, has there been more shipping over the past decade? No, not more goods shipped, but more shio movements? For if there haven’t then the rise in shop strikes is ebcuse of the rise in he number of whales, isn’t it?

Me, I think it’s the recovery of the whale population but if we had a shipping expert to confirm that……?

12 thoughts on “So here’s a test”

  1. Hedgehogs evolved to run like buggery when a vehicle approaches rather than curling up in front of it and getting flattened. Presumably whales will do much the same thing for interacting with shipping, but will take longer to adapt as they have a longer intergenerational time. If so, we can predict that deaths will rise as the population does and then fall back as they learn to get out of the way.

  2. It could be that Tim’s argument about the success of conservation efforts resulting in an increase in numbers is correct.

    However given the fuss, I’d argue for off-shore oil drilling. That’d produce a lot more energy than the windmills.

  3. It might be that the electromagnetic radiation from existing offshore wind farms or the seismic exploration for new ones is driving whales into shipping lanes. The latter is suspected by some for the large number of whale deaths off the east coast of the USA.

  4. “what they see time and again is evidence of run-ins with ships.” I dare say a floating whale carcass is quite likely to be struck by ships since, unlike a live whale, it can’t get out of the way. The question is what killed the whale, not what struck it after the event.

    P.S. I didn’t read to the end: did anyone argue that the whales have been catching Covid?

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    Shipping routes may have changed in that period because the USA’s clean fuels regulations kicked in and ships tried to stay out of US territorial waters as much as possible.

    Maybe whales had learned to avoid the old ones?

  6. Surreptitious Evil

    Well, at least it is a change from them blaming submarine sonar for driving them ashore. (Although submarines do have active sonar, it is rarely used as it sort of gives the game away.)

  7. Men have been hunting whales in boats for thousands of years and the whales still haven’t learnt to get out of the way. So much for their superior intelligence.

  8. ’…all but 10 of them died…’

    I’m betting the other 10 did too, and haven’t been found yet, since large whale strandings tend to be of sick individuals.

    Trying to refloat them makes the ‘rescuers’ feel good, but is almost certainly torture.

  9. Would also be interesting to compare with longer ago in the past. Whale beachings were such a common occurance that England legislated that such “Great Fish” were automatically the property of the Crown, whereas floatsam, jetsam, and wildlife were Common Wrecks.

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