dead whale
Two bottlenose whales, thought to be a mother and her calf, which were spotted two weeks ago in the Oosterschelde were again seen in Zeeland on Sunday evening. Sadly, the mother bottlenose was believed to be the whale which was found dead on Monday in Terneuzen.

The mammal's body had a large wound along its side, nonprofit organization SOS Dolfijn said. The agency was still searching for the second animal out of concern that the whales were far away from their native waters.

It was not certain if the whales were the same as those spotted over the past two weeks in Zeeland. "Researchers from Utrecht University affiliated with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will visit the site to extensively examine the animal. A cause is also being sought to determine why the bottlenose whales ended up so far south.," the organization said.

The pair were spotted by a whale watcher in the Westerschelde near Terneuzen at about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday. At the time, the group said, "the adult animal appears to display very stressful swimming behavior." It had asked the centers keeping watch over water traffic and infrastructure, and local emergency service offices, "to keep an eye out" for the animals so they can be monitored and assisted.

SOS Dolfijn also asked the public to notify them if they see any bottlenose whales, which are significantly larger than porpoises, and are native to the deep waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. The cetaceans are a type of beaked whale, and their sighting was of concern as dozens of these whales have become stranded or beached in recent weeks.

Seven such whales washed ashore in Ireland last month, and 11 were stranded on the Faroe Islands. Two live whales were also spotted off the cost of England recently, while dead or living whales washed ashore in the English cities of Lowestoft and Portsmouth, in the Belgian town of Wenduine, and in the Dutch village Roggenplaat.

In August, SOS Dolfijn noted that because of their deep sea natural habitat, they have developed an advance sonar capability to help them with hunting and navigation at depths where there is no sunlight. The organization said this makes beaked whales very sensitive to sonic disturbances, like underwater earthquakes and sonar systems used by naval vessels.

A large NATO anti-submarine exercise near Iceland could have disrupted the whales, especially once military ships from the British, Canadian and other European naval branches discovered nine Russian Navy ships, and escorted them out of British territorial waters. "It is quite possible that the now stranded animals are also a direct result of such an exercise," SOS Dolfijn said.

"The beaked whales we are finding now may be just the tip of the iceberg as only a small number of the animals may reach our shallow shores."