Drone footage of a fin whale with a bad case of scoliosis was captured off the coast of Valencia, Spain recently. The huge mammel has an almost 90 degree angle in its spine. Happily staff from Valencia’s oceanarium, the Oceanografíc worked alongside the coast guard to rescue the stricken animal.
The 55 foot long whale was spotted off the coast of the town of Cullera, just south of Spain’s third largest city. The animal was struggling to swim and the captain of a boat alerted the emergency services.
It was initially assumed that the whale was tangled in fishing nets in shallow water and couldn’t free itself. However after launching a drone and reviewing the footage, it became obvious that this animal was suffering from Scoliosis. This is a common medial condition which causes curvature of the spine and can afflict humans too, however, it’s rare to see an example on a whale which is so pronounced.
The Oceanografíc Foundation posted on Facebook that the deformity was of unknown origin. It could have been a genetic or birth defect, or it could be the result of a a collision with a boat.
After examining the whale, the rescue team tried to place a tracking device on it to track and monitor its condition as it moves around the Mediterrean sea. However, due to the animals size, this proved impossible. The whale was later successfully released into deeper waters.
Fin whales are the second largest whale after Blue whales, and it is relatively rare to sight them in the Mediterranean, particularly so close to the shore. Sadly, it is likely that this whale will end up in trouble again due to it’s poor swimming abilities.
The ability to easily shoot aerial footage via drone has begun to greatly open up our view of ocean creatures. Just a few months ago researchers were shocked to witness drone footage of orcas attacking a great white shark.