It is an unprecedented event that scientists say is the largest ever beaching of whales in all of recorded scientific history. And the scientists say they have no idea what happened.
It is considered the greatest and most massive beaching of whales in recorded scientific history. Recently, scientists were flying over the remote region of Patagonia in Chile when they saw the bodies of 337 dead whales along the coastline.
The remote area is at the far reaches of the South American continent and scientists can’t get there on foot. What they saw from the air stunned and confused them. Scientists counted the dead bodies of 305 whales and another 32 skeletons, according to National Geographic. Many of the bodies are in such an advanced state of deterioration that scientists can’t even be sure of the species of any of the dead bodies.
Scientists are making an educated guess that the whales are a species known as Sei whales. These whales are endangered everywhere on Earth and can weigh up to 50 tons. The average length of a Sei whale is 64 feet. They filter the water to feed on smaller sea creatures as well as krill. They can live up to 70 years and swim at over 30 miles an hour. There are only about 80,000 left in the world and they range far out to sea and are never seen anywhere near a coastline.
There had been a smaller stranding of about 30 whales in April but scientists are at a total loss as to what happened to over 300 of them, though much of the speculation concerns Red Tide. The Red Tide consists of giant pools of toxic organisms that enter into the ocean by way of fertilizers, raw sewerage, and other toxic chemicals from the manufacturing of many different products.
While the estimates are that 80,000 of the creatures still exist, scientists clearly are baffled as there really is no hard data on this rare whale. Red Tide, according to Chilean authorities, may have been the reason there was a massive die off of so many species around 5 million years ago in Chile.
The dead stranded whales were grouped extremely close together and that also confuses scientists. Around 200 whales also beached themselves in February off the coast of New Zealand.