There have been dead whales for almost as long as there have been alive ones.
Sometimes whales get murdered by greedy pirates who want their blubber or their skin, sometimes they are murdered slowly in an amusement park so children can watch, and sometimes they just swim onto a beach and die.
Last week 400 whales washed up on the shores of New Zealand and it got us at Tragedy Weekly wondering… what’s up with all the dead whales? Does it happen more often now? And how many whales are there anyway? You’d think eventually enough whales would kill themselves that there’d stop being whales.
What’s Up With All the Dead Whales?
In this particular instance, the 400-odd dead whales ended up on a beach called “Farewell Spit” in New Zealand. This particular beach is known as a “whale trap,” because it’s position in the ocean and it’s shallow water make it the ideal final resting place for hundreds of foolish, foolish whales.
It’s not the first time (literally) tons of whales ended up on this beach. In 2012 a pod of whales got themselves stuck there, but only 11 of them died that time. In 2015 another 200 whales ended up there, 100 died.
This happens all over the world, not just in New Zealand. Every year hundreds of whales just swim up on a beach and die. It happens in Europe, it happens in the United States, it happens in Mexico. But some years it seems to happen more often than others. According to a study of mass whale suicides, these “mass stranding” seem to peak every 11-13 years. Probably because of changes in the climate.
Does it Happen More Often Now?
Well, 400 whales have never washed up on Farewell Spit before. At least not as long as people have been keeping track. It ha been scientifically proven that the climate is going through a drastic change right now, so it’d be weird not to consider that a possibility.
But it’ hard to tell if the total number of whales murdering themselves has gone up over the years. Just because there’s so many beaches and so many whales (although there are fewer today than last week).
One thing that definitely happens more now than before is people trying to save the whales. So that’s a silver lining…
How Many Whales are There Anyway?
This is not a super easy question to answer because there are hundreds of different kind of whales, and some of them are doing better than others. Also keeping track of whale populations is difficult, because the ocean is pretty big.
But here’s a straight answer taken directly from a website for children;
No one knows for sure how many whales there are in the whole world. We are not even sure how many kinds of whales there are. Every once in a while some one discovers a new kind of whale no ever knew existed. Before 1900 there were probably about 3 million whales in the world. Of all the different kinds of whales in all the oceans, seas and rivers, there are possibly less than 2 million whales living today.
So there’s probably about 2 million-ish whales in the whole world. That seems like a lot. But 400 of them just swam up on a beach and died.
Here’s a chart of a particular Orca population taken from the organization Whale Scout.
If you are genuinely interested in the specifics of the the populations of different kind of whales check out The International Whaling Commission.
Now we’ll leave you with this video of whale exploding…
Thoughts, prayers, and good vibes to our readership.