Same page in Hebrew

An animal also has soul - on whales
Copyright © 2009 by Netsivi Ben-Amots
English translation Copyright © 2014 by Netsivi Ben-Amots

When I was a boy I had a book:
"Animal also has soul" (only in Hebrew, "Gam lahaya neshama," גם לחיה נשמה published by the association of friends of Tel-Aviv Zoo). In the book Baruch Gopher, the manager of Tel-Aviv Zoo then, told exciting stories about the animals in the zoo. Almost each animal had a name. Who remembers today that there existed a she-hyena named "Davik" and what was her story?

After many years I heard in the radio a Japanese song translated to Hebrew. In my variation some lines were:
"The whale,
is big and wise;
He hides under the sea."

Between the lines a full world hides, some of which was discovered in researches presented in scientific movies, mostly in National Geographic Channel, but also in Channel 8 (Science channel of Israel).

A dolphin investigated divers with a scooter (scooter is an undersea driving equipment with a propeller). The dolphin expelled air bubbles similar to those expelled by the diving equipment of the divers, and rolled in the water similar to helices, producing helical pressure waves as the propeller of the scooter of the divers produced.

Another dolphin joined a woman diver who dived near him and followed her. Whales and most fish and dolphins lack reverse "gear." Therefore, they avoid entering undersea caves, so as not to be trapped in them. I do not forget the worried look of the dolphin "face," when his diver woman friend entered an undersea cave, while he waited outside the cave.

In another case dolphins surrounded persons swimming in the water, when sharks showed up around.

A whale grabbed a woman and dragged her deep in the water. She was sure that she would drown and die, because even if the whale would let her free, she will not be able to reach the surface of the sea before she suffocate. But at the last second, the whale dragged her in maximum speed to the water surface and let her free.

The whale just wanted to know how much time the woman can endure without breathing; when he felt she cannot hold her breath any more, he dragged her to the surface with full speed to save her.

These are examples to the intelligence and soul of the marine mammals.

Whales live in groups. They have language. Each whale has first name and family name.

The family name is a word unique for the group, shared by all the members of the group.

The first name is a word unique for each whale.

Whales and dolphins have exceptionally good hearing.

Whales are capable to vocally communicate from a distance of thousands kilometers. They even use "voice channels" in the oceans, produced because of temperature differences in different regions and depths in the ocean. In these voice channels the voice is less weakens, so that their good hearing enables them communication even between two far edges of the Pacific Ocean.

A friend told me that he had read about a British research, in which dozens of years ago measurements proved that dolphins vocally communicate from distances of 4000 kilometers.

Whales and dolphins are capable to identify the motion of fish between stormy waves from far distances, and it is vital for them because they eat fish. Identification of weak voices of fish motion, in strong random noise of stormy waves, is quite simple thing for whales, using their hearing that nothing can be compared to it.

Whales and dolphins have sonar. Using their excellent hearing they locate fish and more, by echoes from their sonar signals, even within the sea sands in the bottom of the sea.

Hearing includes the ears, which are sophisticated mechanical amplification devices, and sophisticated deciphering centers in the brain. Both are exceptionally developed in whales, with their hearing that includes mechanical delicate amplification devices, which amplify the weakest voices to large vibrations in the ear, before transformed to nerve signals going to the brain for deciphering.

Some whales dive for few kilometers undersea to search their food; the pressure there is hundreds atmospheres. When they go to the surface they must take a rest, during which they are vulnerable to hit of ships that hit them when they are recovering from the dive and cannot escape the closing up ship. There is no whale doctor and they usually die later from the hard hit, then sometimes are pushed to the shore by the sea waves.

Sometimes a whale enters a shallow small bay during tide, and if he failed to escape out in time, he is trapped until the next tide and may die from exposure to sun and the pressure of his huge weight on his tissues. Sometimes good people save such a whale.

But there were cases in which single whales or few whales, or even large groups of whales, went up the shore intentionally and died.

There were theories that whales navigate according to magnetic fields that confused the whales and led them to the shore. But whale savers were astonished to observe the whales that they dragged out to the sea turning back and forcefully going on the shore, where they died later.

This was not a navigation error, but a mystery, why the whales behave as committing suicide?

Post-mortem operations found nothing, until the discovery that all the suiciding whales had significant hemorrhage, but only in the ears.

Only then it was found that in each of the suicide cases, submarines or other navy ships operated sonar in the vicinity.

A radio includes switching of device; if it fails, one can take out the plug. Whales lack this option. They cannot switch off or decrease the high amplification of their sensitive hearing. The strong sonar sounds cause very strong mechanical vibrations in the mechanical amplification devices in the ears of the whales, up to significant bleeding in their middle ear and its vicinity. No doctor is around to stop the bleeding.

The whale is not fool; he knows that he will die from this. Even if he will not die from the bleeding, he will be deaf and unable to find food, and will starve to death.

But why the whale commits suicide on the shore? Why it is so important to the whale with wounded ears to die on shore, not in the water?

It was found that the strong sonar-induced vibrations cause the whale a terrible pain in his ears, which he has no way to escape of, but only to go on shore. When going on shore, the whale does not hear the submarine sonar within the water. Then the terrible pain stops or weakens, which enables the whale to escape from the terrible torture of pains literally saw in his ears.

The whales are not just look as if committing suicide. In my opinion the terrible truth is that the whales are indeed committing suicide, to die, but not with the terrible pain induced by the sonar, which for them is the most terrible torture.

Who will tell the whales that today young people want discotheques noisy as possible, oblivious to the damage for the hearing sense?

Associations for protecting the whales ask the navies not to train in or near regions of whale flocks.

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בחזרה לדף הראשי בעברית

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