The whale’s curved spine, whose Latin name is Balaenoptera physalus, initially suggested it was entangled in drifting fishing nets. However, further observations revealed that the whale had a spinal disorder similar to scoliosis.
In humans, scoliosis is a posture disorder that causes extremely serious posture disorders in the later stages, and is usually caused by the curvature of the spine to the side.
Observers were surprised to find a similar curvature of the spine in a whale, as exercises such as swimming are often recommended to patients in the treatment of scoliosis.
The corrugated whale, the second largest whale species after the blue whale, was first spotted by a boat captain.
Seeing that the animal was having trouble swimming, the boat captain informed the Spanish Civil Guard and officials of the ocean research institution Oceanogràfic València.
Authorities immediately sent a rescue boat to the area. The researchers wanted to examine the animal more closely and place a tracking device on it. However, the team failed to implant a tracking device in the animal.
The whale, thought to be about 17 meters long and roughly 40 tons in weight, disappeared into the depths of the Mediterranean.
May reappear on the coastline
On the other hand, the research team at Oceanogràfic València reminded the animal’s swimming problems and warned that it could reappear on the coastline in the coming days.
Local people were advised to inform the authorities when they saw the whale.
In July 2019, a minke whale, much smaller than a sloth whale, was caught in nets in the Netherlands. Signs of spinal problems caused by the trauma of the net were observed in the animal.
At that time, scientists were able to closely examine the minke whale. It was understood that the suffering of the whale was very similar to the effects of scoliosis in humans.
A better understanding of spinal curvatures in animals may answer the question of why humans develop scoliosis without any injury.