Beached Melon-Headed Whales Rescued

More good whale news related to Japan — 22 stranded melon-headed whales were rescued recently. About 200 people including staff from Ibaraki’s Oarai Aquarium helped pour water on the beached whales and move them back out into the ocean. (Many also died however, despite their efforts. Around 50 whales were originally found beached.) The whales beached themselves on Honshu Island, near Ibaraki. Fortunately the conservation status of the species is “Least Concern” so there are enough of them that the losses, though tragic, are not going to cause them to go extinct.

Melon-headed whales often move together in large groups, up to 1,000 (but this large number is rare.) In 2009 about 300 were found in shallow waters, and were guided back to deep water where they need to be in order to find food, by citizens in the Philippines. It was speculated at the time that the whales may have become disoriented due to hearing damage caused by human activity. In 2004 a large group of them moved into shallow water about the same time naval exercises were being conducted fairly close by. It was determined the naval ship sonar may have contributed to their behavior change.

Adults can weigh over 400 pounds and be 10 feet long. They resemble dolphins somewhat in shape and color. Their main food is squid, and due to this preference they are well-equipped for deep dives to find them. The main reason they aren’t seen by humans often is the fact they spend a fair amount of time in deep waters. Females live up to 30 years in the wild, and males a little over 20. Gestation is about 12 months. There are populations in Hawaiian waters, the Phillipines, and the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico, but they can move to any warm tropical waters where they can find squid and fish. Though their numbers are at a sustainable level, they are still a protected species. Luckily for them they tend to stay away from human civilization.

Related Links
Japanese Whaling Season Halted by Activists
Man Gets Prison Time for Smuggling Whale Parts


Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

I just love a good ending!

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

I am so glad the whales were rescued this time. All too often, that is not the case.
The military needs to cease its "programs" that interfere with marine life--if they cannot cease their activities, they can, at least, find non-destructive alternatives.

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

so glad the rescue could be made

Donna B.
Donna B5 years ago

Thx for the article. Never heard of this type of whale before. So glad that alot of them could be saved.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y6 years ago

Great sign the Japanese public are becoming more active to protect cetaceans. Japanese public opinion may finally change conditions at Taiji.

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg6 years ago

Bravo, people who save animals! :)

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom6 years ago

Good article, thank you.

paula eaton
paula eaton6 years ago

Good story. I wish the whale killers would stop the slaughter of these gentle souls. I am glad there are compassionate people out there who help the whales.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago


Duane B.
.6 years ago

I wish we knew the cause of these beachings and could prevent them. It is so heartbreaking to see these beautiful creatures die from beaching themselves.