Death of a gentle giant: Heartbreaking moment beached humpback whale appears to weep as it loses its battle to stay alive on Brazilian beach
- The mammal washed up on Caipe Beach in Sao Francisco do Conde on July 16
This is the heartbreaking moment a beached humpback whale appears to weep as it draws its final breaths after being stranded on a beach in Brazil.
The magnificent marine mammal washed up on Caipe Beach in Sao Francisco do Conde on July 16.
Footage taken by amazed onlookers shows how tears seemingly stream down the gentle giant’s face as if it knows it is close to death.
Tragically, marine experts reported on July 17 that the trapped whale had died, despite desperate attempts to save it.
The animals can only survive for a few hours out of the water, and the beached whale was seen blinking continuously as it met a devastating end.
The beached humpback blinks continuously as it suffers a tragic end. The animals can only survive for a few hours out of the water
Projeto Baleia Jubarte – or Humpback Whale Project – vet and coordinator Gustavo Rodamilans told local media: ‘We tried to tow the animal three times.’
He added: ‘We had all the appropriate equipment, a well-trained team, but the whale managed to break free from the rope and wouldn’t let itself be towed.’
The humpback had first washed up on Mare Island in All Saints’ Bay on 8th July.
After being returned to the water, it became stranded again on Caipe Beach on 15th July.
It was returned to the sea a second time with the help of volunteers and a tugboat, only to wash up yet again at a nearby spot the next morning.
Gustavo told local media at the time: ‘We noticed that its fin has a dislocation or fracture, but we can only confirm it with an X-ray.
Footage taken by amazed onlookers shows how tears seemingly stream down the stranded humpback’s face as if it knows it is close to death
‘However, it’s not possible to treat a dislocation or fracture in a whale, and that makes the animal’s survival impossible.’
The Humpback Whale Project team had told local media it was considering euthanising the animal, but it is not clear how it met its end.
Scientists have officially rejected the claim that the whale had been crying.
They say the reason for the tears was a release of oil to lubricate the whale’s eyes while out of water
Biologist Victor Bandeira explained: ‘There is a gland in the eyelid that produces oil to lubricate the eye and prevent dryness.
‘Since the whale is on land, exposed to wind, its eyes dry out, so it produces this oil to protect the eyeball.’
While whales do not cry in the sense humans would, witnesses to whale strandings around the world have reported the sheer emotion of the animals as they beach.
Liz Carlson, who witnessed a mass-stranding of pilot whales in New Zealand in 2018 said: ‘They had tears in their eyes… It looked like they are crying and they were making sad sounds.’
She told the BBC it had been ‘the worst night of my life’ and added: ‘You can sense the fear in the animals, they are looking at you. They watch you and they have very human-like eyes.’
In the UK this weekend, over 50 pilot whales stranded on a beach in the Outer Hebrides.
Thousands of whales and dolphins beach themselves every year for a variety of reasons.