a 17-meter whale with visible scoliosis

They record a 17-meter whale with visible scoliosis near Cullera, in Valencia

We do not know the causes of the great deformity that makes the animal unable to swim well and puts its survival at risk.

The skipper of a fishing boat alerted last Saturday of the sighting of a whale with apparent difficulties in swimming. He notified the Civil Guard who informed the rescue team of the Fundació Oceanogràfic de Valencia. The fisherman reported that the whale had been in the exact location for too long, approximately two miles from Cullera Beach, in Ribera Baixa, Valencian Country.

The rescue team of the Valencian aquarium and the Civil Guard were mobilized to help the whale — about 17 meters and 40 tons — and saw that it had a serious injury to its spine, which made it difficult for it to swim.

At first, it was thought that the animal had been entangled in a net near the lighthouse, but when they got closer they could see that this was not the case. He had a severe deviation in the spine; a scoliosis of unknown origin that completely altered his anatomy.

In these aerial images from the Fundació de l’Oceanogràfic de Valencia, you can see how the patrol boat of the Civil Guard tries to approach the cetacean.  

The whale’s size and work in the open sea, coupled with the malformation it suffered from, prevented veterinarians from placing a remote tracker on it to obtain more detailed data on its condition, biology, and trajectory. Hours later, the whale drifted away from the coast and into the open sea.

However, professionals believe that the animal will reappear in the next few days due to its general condition and difficulty in swimming. For this reason, they have alerted different recovery centers and other institutions that participate in these operations and remember that anyone can activate the action protocol through the Emergency telephone number, 112, in case of sighting or avarice of an animal sailor in trouble.

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Study of whales at the UPV

The fin whale is the second largest whale on the planet, behind the blue whale, and during the summer months can be seen in the waters of the Spanish Mediterranean.

Currently, the Oceanogràfic Foundation participates in the Cabo Rorcual project of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) to analyze the presence, origin, and threats of these animals at Cap de la Nau and in the Ibiza channel.

A project in which the Valencian aquarium is responsible for taking biological samples and the satellite marking of these animals.

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