Dead whales sink because they are denser than water, meaning they displace more water than the amount of water that their total volume occupies. Over time, this causes them to slowly submerge and sink.
This is important to manage marine resources because dead whales are large, smelly predators that can attract scavenging animals, such as sharks, and have the potential to cause a disruption in the local ecosystem.
Sinking the carcass prevents such disruptions and also prevents other boats from hitting the carcass, which could cause significant damage. Additionally, sinking a dead whale can help decompose the carcass, enabling it to be consumed by the local marine environment and returned to the nutrients of the sea.
How long does it take for a dead whale to sink?
The time it takes for a dead whale to sink will depend on several factors, such as the size of the whale, the composition of its body, and the type of environment it is in. Generally, a dead whale will begin to sink within minutes, however, due to its large size, it may take anywhere from a few hours to several days for the whale to completely submerge beneath the surface of the water.
In shallow waters or in certain environments with a lot of seaweed, the whale may get caught on the seafloor and take days or even weeks to completely sink. Additionally, due to gas buildup inside the dead whale, it may become buoyant and take a longer time to sink.
In conclusion, it can take anywhere from a few hours to weeks for a dead whale to sink, depending on the environment and size of the whale.
What do they do with dead whales on the beach?
When a whale ends up on the beach, a significant amount of effort is employed to dispose of it in the most safe and environmentally friendly way possible. In some locations, the whale will be towed back out to sea.
In other circumstances the whale will be buried on the beach or removed from the beach entirely and transported to a local or regional landfill.
In many cases a necropsy, or animal autopsy, will be performed to investigate the whale’s cause of death. In some cases, officials may also take tissue samples of the whale and analyze them to learn more about the ocean environment, whale behavior, and genealogy.
There are specific protocols that have been designed to ensure effective and safe disposal of deceased whales on beaches. In the U.S., The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has outlined guidelines for proper whale disposal.
These protocols involve working with local communities, experts, and other agencies in order to best understand the local context and devise an effective plan of action.
Ultimately, there is not one universal solution for getting rid of dead whales. The best possible solution often depends on what resources are available and the local environmental context. The key takeaway is that significant effort and collaboration is put into disposing of dead whales in the most environmentally responsible manner possible.
What happens if you go near a dead whale?
If you go near a dead whale, you need to be very careful as it poses several health risks. The most obvious risk is being injured by the whale’s large size and sharp teeth or sharp parts of its skeleton.
The other main risk associated with dead whales is the potential for the release of dangerous chemicals and toxins. When a whale dies, its body is full of naturally occurring bacteria, viruses, and other organisms, but can also contain significant levels of toxins, such as mercury, organic pollutants, and oil.
These toxins can be released into the environment and can be hazardous to human health, so it is essential to keep a safe distance from the whale and to take precautions to avoid potential contact with any toxic substances.
In some instances, local authorities may also put in place restrictions for going near dead whales.