Were Scottish whales injured by an undersea earthquake?

Sixteen pilot whales, including four calves, were injured by an undersea earthquake on 11 August 2012. They died in a mass stranding on the coast of Fife in Scotland.

The pod of 26 was discovered inside a cove on a small sandy beach at the base of steep cliffs in Pittenweem, near St Andrews, shortly after 7am on Sunday (02 Sept 2012). A further 24 pilot whales from the same pod have been seen in the shallows three miles along the coast at Cellardyke. They were being closely observed amid fears they might also beach.

A spokesman for Fife coastguard said: “The usual scenario would be that the whale that is leading the group has become ill, or has lost its way, and gets beached and the rest will follow on, although we do not know for sure if that is what happened.”  This statement is wrong.  All the whales in the pod are lost and swimming along with the flow of the surface currents.

The pod had previously been injured by potent pressure changes (seaquakes) induced into the water by the following undersea earthquake:

Magnitude    mb 5.3   NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

Date time: 2012-08-11 17:47:30.0 UTC
Location 1692 km W of Dublin at 52.21N; 31.46W

The quake was focused only 3 km below the ocean’s surface at an intersection of an east-west trending transform fault and a small section of the north-south running mid-ocean ridge axis.

Full story: Deafwhale

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