Whale with broken spine makes last journey of 3,000 miles by performing breaststroke

A whale with a broken spine has apparently defied all odds after journeying 3,000 miles by performing the breaststroke. The humpback whale, nicknamed Moon, was spotted off the coast of British Columbia with a visibly crooked lower body that researchers say was caused by being hit by a boat. But, the whale persevered by doing the breaststroke for a whopping 3,000 miles to complete its annual migration pattern to warmer waters.

Despite making the journey, the whale was visibly exhausted with its body appearing emaciated and full of sea lice. Researchers at the Pacific Whale Foundation have been tracking Moon for the past 1o years, and say they are relieved she made the journey from Canada to Hawaii. But, sadly, they say she will likely die soon. Her injury has left her body bent in an “S” shape, with Fin Island Research Station noting that the injury is severe and will likely lead to her death.

The images of the whale doing what most would never even think to do in such a condition proved heartbreaking for viewers. Researchers say she was likely in severe pain but still set out to make the journey. As a whale usually uses its tail to propel itself, the spinal injury prevented it from using its tail. In 2020, Moon was seen in Canadian waters with a calf, leaving researchers pleased at the sight.

The BC Whales wrote that her tenacity to make such a journey speaks of her instinct to follow such ingrained migratory patterns.

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‘We will never truly understand the strength it took for Moon to take on what is regrettably her last journey, but it is on us to respect such tenacity within another species and recognize that vessel strikes lead to a devastating end.’

Sadly, up to 20,000 whales die every year from fatal collisions with boats not to mention the tragedy that plastic in the oceans creates for all marine life.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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