Stranded whale at Cala Millor (Mallorca)

Last weekend the unfortunate incident of a beached whale took place at Cala Millor (Son Servera, Mallorca). Despite the rescue efforts, the whale died during the 27th January early morning. Pending on the experts examinations, news pointed that the whale was sick and injured by a boat helix, and most probably it was drifting and driven to the beach by the action of waves and local currents.

The video-monitoring system of the Beach Monitoring Facility at SOCIB captured the images of the stranded whale as well as the tasks of analysis and retirement of the specimen from the 26th to the 29th of January (Animation 1). Snapshots of camera 01 of the Cala Millor Station, reveal what seems to be the stranded whale on 26th January afternoon (17:00 UTC).

Animation 1. Snapshots of Camera 01 of the BMF Cala Millor Station between 27th and 29th January 2019


The Beach Monitoring Facility is observing and analysing beach morphodynamics evolution of this beach since 2011. The video-monitoring station is located on top of the Hotel Sentido Cala Millor, gathering hourly images of the beach. Twice a year, scientific field campaigns are conducted in the area that encompasses high resolution bathymetries, sediment sampling as well as the retrieval of instruments that measures hourly waves and currents during the whole year. Furthermore, daily wave forecast models of the Balearic Islands are conducted in collaboration with Puertos del Estado.

The planview compositions of the images provided by the 5 cameras battery during last weekend show the presence of a crescentic sandbar close to the shoreline (white areas of Figure 1). Sand bars are sand ridges in the beach that encloses a deeper channel between shoreline and their crest. In these deeper areas, whales can be easily trapped, and it may be difficult for such a big specimens to free themselves.

Figure 1. Planview composition of images of Cala Millor from the BMF station on 25th January 2019 17:00 UTC.

Furthermore, numerical models on the propagation of the wave field in the area, forced by the offshore wave conditions provided by Puertos del Estado (Animation 2), revealed that wave height in the area exceeded the 2 meters during 26th of January, and kept above the mean wave height during this season, surpassing the extreme conditions threshold in this area (Hs>1.86 m). 

Animation 2. Simulations of wave propagation (wave height and from-direction) at Mallorca Island and at Cala Millor surrounding area. Lower plot shows the time-series of both off-shore wave height and from-direction at Son Servera Bay entrance.