Whales beach on Japan's shores

2015-04-11 13:18
People attempt to save melon-headed whales beached on the shore of Hokota city, northeast of Tokyo. (Toshifumi Kitamura, AFP)

People attempt to save melon-headed whales beached on the shore of Hokota city, northeast of Tokyo. (Toshifumi Kitamura, AFP)

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Tokyo - The mass beaching of more than 150 melon-headed whales on Japan's shores has fuelled fears of a repeat of a seemingly unrelated event in the country - the devastating 2011 undersea earthquake that killed about 19,000 people.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence linking the two events, a flurry of online commentators have pointed to the appearance of about 50 melon-headed whales - a species that is a member of the dolphin family - on Japan's beaches six days prior to the monster quake, which unleashed a towering tsunami and triggered a nuclear disaster.

Scientists were on Saturday dissecting the bodies of the whales, 156 of which were found on two beaches on Japan's Pacific coast a day earlier, but could not say what caused the beachings.

A senior researcher at National Museum of Nature and Science, Tadasu Yamada, said: "We don't see any immediate signs of diseases on their bodies, such as cancer. We want to figure out what killed these animals."

Mass stranding

Despite the lack of any clear link between the beachings and earthquakes - and comments from local officials downplaying such a connection - many took to social media to point to the link.

The 2011 Japan earthquake is not the only instance of beached whales closely preceding a massive tremor.

More than 100 pilot whales died in a mass stranding on a remote New Zealand beach on 20 February 2011, two days before a large quake struck the country's second-largest city Christchurch.

Japanese officials have nevertheless tried to calm fears, and have insisted there is no scientific data to prove the link.

Read more on:    japan  |  animals

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