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Cyprus: Washed up whales linked to Syria-Turkiye earthquake

February 11, 2023 at 12:50 pm

A whale swims on February 10, 2023 [LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images]

Cypriot officials announced on Friday that several whales had washed up on Cypriot coasts that may have died due to the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkiye and Syria.

Three out of seven whales washed up in various locations across the Cypriot coasts were found alive and were returned to the water during the last few days. However, they were found dead later on.

The Department of Fisheries in Cyprus reported that locals had found the whales and then notified the authorities, which attempted to rescue the animals, Cyprus Mail disclosed.

“Sadly, all the whales, even those which had been pushed back into the water, were later found beached and dead,” Spokesperson for the Marine Research Department Lavrentis Vassiliades told Cyprus Mail.

Vassiliades shared that this was the first time this number of whales had washed up at the same time off the Cypriot coasts, pointing to isolated incidents in the past.

READ: Earthquake hits Palestine, with its epicentre in Nablus

The fisheries research team conducted autopsies on the whales on Friday. Some samples were sent abroad to determine the exact cause of the deaths.

Reports indicated that the deaths of the whales could be linked to the seismic vibrations from the recent earthquake that hit Turkiye and Syria, as the sea creatures largely rely on their sense of hearing to communicate with one another through high-frequency echolocation.

Yiannos Ioannou, an official from the Department of Fisheries in Cyprus, said that other possible causes could be naval exercises or seismic operations for the discovery of hydrocarbons.

However, Xinhua reported that there had been no such activities in the region recently.