José Javier Delgado Esteban

Photographer
Location: Spain
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: I am a multi award-winning visual artist, photographer and new media developer. Throughout my early professional life in Spain I developed a strong interest in all aspects of photography, moving image, environmental, space sciences and natural... MORE
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Sperm Whales strandings in the UK
josé javier delgado esteban
Jan 27, 2016
A few years ago I started my project on whales on a similar event, back then only one Sperm Whale was stranded though.This very weekend a stranding of four enormous sperm whales bulls near Skegness and Hunstanton that might come from a pod of around 20 individuals.They might have taken the wrong turn to the shallow waters of the English "Wash".

The Wash is the square-mouthed bay and estuary on the northwest margin of East Anglia on the where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire. It is among the largest estuaries in the UK. 

Its is an area where Sperm Whales and other Odontocetes (toothed whales) have stranded in past due to its constantly moving sand banks and shallow waters. Toothed whales like Sperm, Pilot and Killer whales share a similar sonar-like endogenous navigational system in their mellon-shaped heads.  They might also posses a secondary or redudant system able to detect electro-magnetic patterns imprinted in the Earth's crust as well. It is believed tiny ferrous particles in their heads might act as an internal compass.

Sperm Whales get their name from the Spermaceti oil that fills a huge cavity on the upper part of the head. In the old whaling days, sailors belived to be the "sperm" of the whale as it turned cloudy and white at air temperature. It is belived that this oil might play a part when applifying a sonic wave produced in the back of their heads, so acting as a kind of giant speaker. The whale uses the eco-location as the main form of "vision" in the pitch black waters of the huge depths where they can spend up to 2 hours hunting for squid well bellow the 1,000 metre mark.

The unlucky of The Wash sub-pod unable to feed on the deep-sea squids that provide them with the protein and water needed to stay alive, they might have dehydrated very quickly and this might have had an effect on their navigation.

You can see some of the images I took back in 2011 here.


Or read more about this event on the always excellent Philip Hoare's article here.




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