The Whale That Washed Up At Trestles, Selfies and Ecology

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About three weeks ago a dead gray whale washed up at Trestles. The media and beach-goers swarmed, and the reports, speculations and articles closely followed.

As surfers, the ocean is our sanctuary, one that breathes with life. Though, with every breathe of life, death follows at some point: natural and unnatural. While headlines speculate about how to best clean up the “mess” or showcase the wave of dead whale selfies, it’s also important to consider this whale as canary in the coal mine and or an example of a natural death.

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Here’s a recent perspective by Korduroy.TV producer and ecologist, Charles Post

A dead whale washes up at Trestles… What does it mean, and what can we learn from this incident that may shed light on the state of our climate and oceans? // It’s no surprise that a massive dead whale washed up at Trestles has drawn so much attention. Among the articles I’ve read online, some consider ways to remove the whale, others speculate on the causes for its stranding or the implications for surfers who may be at increased risk from sharks. Regardless of which headline catches your eye or what news source you trust or prefer, here’s a few general things to consider: Whale stranding’s are not uncommon, each is unique depending on the species, sea temperature, sonar, prevailing wind, season, natural causes, injury or attack, contours of the seafloor, pollution (noise and other), toxins, and physiology of the affected whale. With this in mind, there are a few salient points that we can draw from this event: Strandings are on the on rise, which is partly due to an increase in efforts to identify and document strandings; In 17, 18 or 1950 there were far fewer people recording such events. Until a necropsy is done, the media and scientific community can offer speculation as to its cause of death, nothing more. It’s best to drag dead whales to sea or let them be, as an entire community of coastal and benthic organisms rely heavily on whale carcasses and falls (when a dead whale sinks to the ocean floor). While taking selfies with the dead whale seems like a popular way to engage with the event, let’s instead take this as an opportunity to think about how our lifestyles affect whales, how our plastic rich lifestyles are choking our planet, and the stomachs and fatty tissues of organisms we share our planet with. Consider that at the very least, unknowns and hypotheses aside, that our planet is changing, and that we are in the midst of a rapidly unfolding mass-extinction unlike any Earth has experienced. And most importantly, remember that our actions today and tomorrow will directly affect the fate of our planet. By @Charles_Post // photo via @aventure21

For Further Reading:

  1. Los Angeles Times: Dead Whale (Pieces) Hauled Away From San Onofre State Beach
  2. Surfing Magazine: A Massive Dead Whale Washed Up At Lowers
  3. New York Times: How Do You Move A 70,00 Pound (Dead) Whale?
  4. The Inertia: The Gruesome Plan To Remove The 40 Foot Dead Whale At Trestles
  5. NY Post: Massive Dead Whale Washes Up At Popular Surf Spot
  6. Surfline: Dead Whale Washes Up At Trestles
  7. Chicago Tribune: Dead Whale Washes Ashore In California With Another To Follow

 

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