Two beaked whales that were stranded on a beach in Corfu, Greece on Sunday were eventually freed unhurt by volunteers.
Conservation charities WWF Greece and Arion have posted photos of whales lying on a beach on social media saying that they suspect that their disorientation is not coincidental.
Did the whales become disorientated due to seismic surveys in the area?
WWF notes that there are seismic surveys currently being carried out in the area on behalf of ELPE, for exploration and extraction of oil and fossil gas. ELPE is one of the largest oil companies in the Balkans and with its roots dating to 1958 with the establishment of the first oil refinery in Greece
It calls upon the Greek government to suspend the surveys until it verifies that they are safe for whales and other sea mammals.
In early February, a whale that was stranded south of Athens passed away despite valiant attempts at saving its life by volunteers and veterinarians.
According to an announcement by the Greek Environment Ministry, the beaked whale’s body was found in the shallows of Selinia Bay on the island of Salamina by the Hellenic Coast Guard.
A special team of veterinarians has been sent to the scene to remove the whale, which was a species that normally lives in deep waters.
Whales are in danger by offshore drilling a WWF report warned
The world’s whales are facing increasing threats in their key habitats and the “blue corridors” they use to migrate through the oceans, a report by WWF has warned.
It draws on satellite tracking data from 845 whales collected over the past 30 years to map how species, including humpbacks, fin and blue whales, travel through oceans from breeding to key feeding grounds.
It highlights the growing dangers they face from human activity, both in their critical habitats and during migration along coasts and across oceans such as the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic, including into UK waters.
The most significant threat to whale and dolphin populations is entanglement in fishing gear and “ghost nets” which are discarded, lost or abandoned by fishermen, which kills an estimated 300,000 whales a year, the report said.
They also face overfishing which limits their food supplies, increasing ship traffic which raises the risk of being hit by vessels, underwater noise, plastic and chemical pollution and offshore oil and gas drilling.
Beaked whales common off Greece
The beaked whale is closely related to toothed whales such as killer whales and narwhals.
This species lives in water deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters), but is known to dive as deep as an incredible 9,816 feet (2,992 meters). Despite this, the beaked whale is among the most commonly spotted beached whales.
Thankfully, the beached whale is populous in seas and oceans across the world, including Greece and is not threatened or endangered. It is believed that over 100,000 beaked whales live in the world’s oceans, with the vast majority living in the eastern Pacific.