Whales entangled in deep sea cables

Journal Article

Title: Whales entangled in deep sea cables
Authors: Heezen, B.
Publication Date:
January 01, 1957
Journal: Deep Sea Research
Volume: 4
Pages: 105-114
Publisher: Elsevier

Document Access

Website: External Link


Heezen, B. (1957). Whales entangled in deep sea cables. Deep Sea Research, 4, 105-114.

Fourteen instances of whales entangled in submarine cables are reported. Ten entanglements occured off the Pacific coast of Central and South America. Six cases occurred in about 500 fathoms, with 620 fathoms the maximum depth reported. Five entanglements occured in the period, February–March–April. All whales positively identified were sperm whales. The submarine cable was generally wrapped around the jaw and often around the flukes and fins. The cable was rarely broken but always badly mauled. The entanglements often occurred near former repairs where there is a chance for extra slack cable on the bottom. Two pothographs of a sperm whale entangled in a cable and one photograph of a whale-jaw entangled in a cable are presented.


It is concluded that sperm whales often swim along the sea floor in depths as great as 620 fathoms. It is suggested that the whales become entangled while swimming along with their jaw plowing through the sediment in search of food. It is possible that the whales attacked tangled masses of slack cable mistaking them for items of food.

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