A 55-Foot Fin Whale with a Severe Case of “Scoliosis” was Spotted Off the Coast of Spain

An enormous fin whale spotted struggling to swim through the cool waters off the coast of Spain has purportedly been diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis.

Veterinarians and biologists with the Valencia oceanarium were alerted to the presence of the 55-foot-long, 40-ton whale off the coast of the city of Cullera, which prompted them to attempt an inspection of the creature at close range. 

The first thought was that the whale had become entangled in a fishing net due to its listing in shallow waters and moving with difficulty close to a local landmark known as Cullera’s lighthouse.

injured fin whale
Photo: YouTube/@OceanograficValenciaOficial

But after their arrival, the team soon realized the animal was not, in fact, entangled but was suffering from a severely deformed spine, meaning it wasn’t able to swim properly. Resembling a paperclip that’s been pulled apart, the startling deformity is said to be of an unknown origin, but it’s definitely pronounced.

Members of Valencia’s Oceanographic Foundation had hoped to fit the whale with a tracking device before it slowly lumbered away from the coast and made its way back out to sea, but they noted that the combination of shallow waters and the creature’s “highly irregular anatomy” made it impossible to do so.

injured fin whale
Photo: YouTube/@OceanograficValenciaOficial

The case is peculiar in that whales are not known to suffer from scoliosis, though there have been instances in which these massive creatures have exhibited significant spinal injuries as a result of trauma from ship strikes. One would think that a crook in your spine of this magnitude would have to have occurred later in life, otherwise how has it survived this long?

Speaking of colliding with ships, a humpback whale named Moon traveled 3,000 miles from Canada to Hawaii over the winter all while suffering from a broken spine thought to be the result of a ship strike. The consensus is that Moon was able to pull it off by doing the breaststroke but that it’s doubtful the cetacean will be able to survive in the condition it’s in very much longer.

Check out the video below.

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