[MARMAM] mass stranding of sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea

David Williams david at deafwhale.com
Sat Dec 12 17:38:45 PST 2009

In reference to the 10 December rare stranding of 7 sperm whales on the Italian Coast:

The most likely cause of this event was an 5.9 magnitude shallowed-focused undersea earthquake that occurred on 5 November 2009 just offshore of Zakinthos Island.  The event was epicenter about 500 miles from the stranding site.  
(see earthquake report below)

You can also get more info on this event from:

Likely Scenario:

The pod was on a feeding when the seafloor below suddenly erupted violently.  There was no warning.  The rocky bottom started dancing up and down rapidly, generating a series of pressure changes that sweep over the whales.  The air contained in the head sinuses of the whales expanded and contracted in unison with the sudden changes in ambient pressure in the water.  Several of the sinuses that play a major role in echo-navigation and echo-location rupthured.  The pod returned to the surface but could not longer dive and feed itself.  Nor could the pod echo-locate or determine direction.  The pod was LOST.  They traveling with the flow of the current into the Adriactic Sea and swim aimlessly around.  Eventually they got to weak to avoid a stranding and where carried ashore by surface currents.     

To read more on how seaquake cause injury in diving whales, visit the following website:

This is truly a rare opportunity to understand the mystery of why whales mass strand.  It is highly likely that these stranded whales can be photo identified since the population offshore of Zakinthos has been well-studied for years.  In fact, there was a film made only recently of the sperm whales in this area.  These particular beached whales might even be part of that film. 


For more information on the seaquake theory contact:

David Williams
david at deafwhale.com 
or call USA Phone # 954-306-1549

  Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 5.9 Mw 
      Date-Time a.. 3 Nov 2009 05:25:09 UTC 
        b.. 3 Nov 2009 07:25:09 near epicenter 
        c.. 3 Nov 2009 13:25:09 standard time in your timezone 
      Location 37.617N 20.782E 
      Depth 10 km 
      Distances a.. 108 km (67 miles) SW (231 degrees) of Patras, Greece 
        b.. 135 km (84 miles) WNW (299 degrees) of Kalamata, Greece 
        c.. 228 km (142 miles) S (182 degrees) of Ioannina, Greece 
        d.. 263 km (163 miles) W (262 degrees) of ATHENS, Greece
      Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 7.0 km; Vertical  
      Parameters Nph = 136; Dmin = 428.5 km; Rmss = 0.98 seconds; Gp = 82°
      M-type = Mw; Version = 7  
      Event ID US 2009nnak ***This event supersedes event AT00722591.  

For updates, maps, and technical information, see: 
Event Page 
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program 

National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey

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