Heartbreaking beached whales in the BVI

Beached whales in the BVI
R. Smith
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 6 July 2022

Heartbreaking to see dozens of whales beached on our neighbouring island, Anegada,  in the BVI. Some were able to reroute and two were saved from the coastline thanks to a small group of concerned citizens lead by the organisation, Beyond the Reef Foundation

Kim Takeuchi
Kim Takeuchi

It’s not yet clear how more than 50 shortfin pilot whales ended up beached and dying on the coast near the East End of Anegada. Only two survived thanks to the wonderful people trying to get them back into the sea (so ably led by Kim from Unite BVI and her husband Mark).

We have been enjoying watching huge pods of whales swim near Necker in recent weeks and it’s tragic to see them go from frolicking in the sea together to stranded on a beach.

Marine biologist Argel Horton said in the local news it may be because they are highly social and have a herding instinct – so the entire group will likely stick together even if one is sick. This can lead to the entire pod stranding while trying to support that injured whale. How sad. But there obviously could be another explanation that us humans don’t understand yet?

When you see events such as this you can’t help but question why it happened – and try to do all you can to prevent it happening again. While there’s lots of theories from volcanic sounds to submarine sonars, I’m looking forward to hearing what the experts conclude.

Beached whales in the BVI
R. Smith

Through a meeting on Necker of Audacious Ideas, money was raised to do AI research into what whales are saying to each other – here’s more about Project Ceti. Perhaps the whales may be able to tell us the reasons themselves one day. It sounds far-fetched, but people with larger brains than mine feel that this really will be discovered.

The ocean is so special to me – I’ve always been fascinated by the huge diversity of life that lives beneath the surface. It really is like another world.

A healthy ocean means a healthy future for us all – it plays such a big role in sustaining life on our planet. I want my grandkids to be able to see whales and dive with turtles and experience all the wonders of the ocean.

Richard Branson smiles at the Necker Cup wearing Ocean Unite's 30X30 t-shirt
Image from Manuela Davies

It’s why I’ve been campaigning since 2015 to protect it with the help of Ocean Unite, a brilliant NGO that is now part of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance.

Our foundation Unite BVI and the team on Necker island also work to protect the local environment through conservation work, recycling initiatives and reef preservation efforts.

It’s so sad to see news such as this – but it’s an important reminder of the importance of protecting the ocean and all the wonderful animals that live beneath the surface.