The sad story of a female humpback whale that traveled nearly 5,000 kilometers with a broken spine [VIDEO]

in Popular STEM2 years ago

A female humpback whale named Moon suffered a spinal fracture as a result of a collision with a ship.

Despite this, she went on an annual migration to the Hawaiian archipelago and reached the island of Maui, breaking about 4800 kilometers.

Moon is severely hurt and will die in the near future.

However, zoologists hope that her story will force the authorities to take more active measures to protect the whales.

Thanks to a moratorium on commercial whaling introduced at the end of the last century, the populations of many species of whales, almost extinct due to human fault, began to recover.

However, whales are facing new challenges these days, from plastic pollution in the oceans to anthropogenic climate change.

In addition, these giants regularly die, entangled in gear or due to collisions with ships.

This is especially true for northern right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), which live off the east coast of North America.

Due to entanglement in gear and collisions with ships, the number of this species has decreased to less than 350 individuals, and by the next century it may disappear completely.

Along the western coasts of North America, humpback and gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are commonly the victims of ship strikes.

An even more dramatic story happened with a female humpback whale named Moon.

For the past decade, zoologists at the Phin Island research station in British Columbia have seen this female every September.

During that time of the year she sailed into coastal waters to feed on energy-rich crustaceans before the long journey to Hawaii to mate and give birth.

Two years ago, she even arrived here with a cub.

However, when Moon appeared near Fin Island this September, she was in a very bad state.

Drone footage showed that her spine was fractured at the bottom of her back, causing her tail to curl into an S-shape and become immobile.

Most likely, the female was injured when she collided with a vessel.

Despite the severe wound, the mammal nevertheless went on an annual migration to the shores of Hawaii: on December 1, she was spotted off the coast of Maui.

Since Moon's tail was useless due to a fracture, she had to cover a distance of approximately 4800 kilometers by flapping her pectoral fins.

Not surprisingly, she quickly depleted her fat reserves.

At the same time, she cannot replenish them, since there is little suitable food for her in tropical waters.

In the pictures taken in the Maui area, the female looks emaciated, and her body is covered with numerous sea lice, parasitic crustaceans.

Zoologists have no doubt that Moon will die soon. It is impossible to cure her - as well as to end her suffering.

For example, trying to put Moon to sleep with poison will only harm the marine life, which, after the death of the female, will feed on her remains.

Researchers who work with humpback whales off the Pacific coast of Canada and the US are devastated by what happened to Moon.

However, they hope that the sad story of this female will force the authorities to take more active measures to protect her relatives.

According to zoologists, the most effective way to protect whales from collisions will be to limit the speed of ships in places where these giants spend most of their time.


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 2 years ago 

How sad that they can't even put an end to her suffering.

It's amazing that she managed to swim so far in that condition. Makes me wonder what drove her to do it. Some kind of instinctive mandate, or does she have a deeper understanding? It seems like a lot of people in a similar situation would have given up.

On a positive note, I see that the humpback whale population has recovered from 5,000 in the 1960s to 135,000. I wonder if there's any chance of recovery for the northern right whales...

Yeah I thought so too. Eventhou the story is tragic, it is inspiring.

Whales are complex mammals, but I don't think they "understand" as we do. Maybe that's the reason they don't give up like most of humans do.

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