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Whales, Earthquakes and the Moon


pics: Whales stranding on Stewart Island, 21 February 2011.


Back in 2004, Dr. Arunachalam Kumar, an anatomy professor at the medical college in Mangalore, India, captured headlines when he suggested that a massive stranding of whales off Tasmania on December 4, 2004 might be a warning of a major earthquake “within a week or two.”  Three weeks later, the earthquake that triggered the Asian Boxing Day tsunami occurred.

On the day of the Southern Declination of 19 August 2010 a 12 tonne whale stranded on the west coast of Australia. The following day on 20 August, a pod of 73 pilot whales came ashore at Karikari Beach in Kaitaia, New Zealand.  Nine were saved by teams attempting to refloat them but the rest died. When Dr. Kumar was informed of the beachings, he predicted that an earthquake and/or a massive volcano eruption at end of August or early September.  On August 29, Mt. Sinabung, a volcano in Sumatra, dormant for years erupted unexpectedly. Then, on September 4th the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit in Christchurch, New Zealand. The moon had shifted to Northern Declination on 2 September, just two days before 4 September 2010.

Five months later, at Lunar Equinox of 21 February 2011, just a day before Christchurch's second massive quake that claimed 185 deaths, 107 pilot whales stranded on a remote Stewart Island beach. Lunar equinox is exactly midway between N and S declinations 
A month further on, 30 whales stranded at South Bruny Island on the South coast of Tasmania on Lunar Equinox; 18th/19th March 2011. The latitude line goes from South Bruny to the north area of Christchurch.
The next day on 20 March 2011, the third biggest earthquake in the Christchurch sequence arrived. At a "Skeptics Lunch" hosted by Sean Plunket, scientists predicted there would be no earthquakes that day (how can you predict nothing??). Forty-five earthquakes shook NZ. In Twizel at lunchtime there were four 4M+ events. At 9.47pm a 7-intensity shake hit Christchurch. 7-intensity is a 6-6.9M event (USGS), destroying the house of deputy head geologist Mark Quigley. 
The tweet warning went out on 25 February,
but could the whales in Tasmania have also provided a warning?.

Skip to present day and on Lunar Equinox, 6 January 2014, 39 whales stranded on Farewell Spit. On the next arm of lunar declination cycle at northern declination of 13 January, 48 whales stranded on the same beach. At exactly the same latitude as Farewell Spit, within a week, Eketahuna was rocked by a 6.2M earthquake.

In a 1991 study of 164 strandings by the Departmernt of Conservation, it was discovered that significantly more strandings occur when barometric pressure is increasing than decreasing, and when wind speed is decreasing. These conditions are typically also perceived as earthquake-weather phenomena.

Research by Capt. David Williams (Deafwhale Society, Inc.) indicates that beachings of offshore whales are the result of a barotraumatic injury in the head sinuses due to rapid and excessive changes in ambient pressure (seaquakes) generated above the epicenter of certain seafloor earthquakes. In plain English, whales get shell-shocked and disoriented swimming above earthquakes. It is as if the GPS on a moving torpedo gets destabilised or even obliterated.

Skip now to:
in which we find that even in NZ, urgent research into the impact of seismic survey activity on whales is now being called for. If localised seismic activity is found to affect whales then it is hardly unlikely that underwater earthquakes occurring over a larger area of ocean would not also do so.

Strandings seem to mostly occur either on northern declination or 10 days after. (Occasionally southern declination features too, especially in the northern hemisphere). There was a northern declination on 13 February 2011, almost 10 days before the 22 February earthquake.

The Haiti earthquake happened on January 12, 2010, the day of southern declination.  On December 28, 2009, one day before northern declination, less than two weeks before the earthquake, over 120 whales died in two separate beachings in New Zealand.



So firstly, what is the connection between declinations and earthquakes? It is already well known that there is a Land Tide, which supports the ocean tide, and that higher tides called kingtides occur when the moon comes closer to earth(perigee). NZ rises and falls by up to 20cms per day due to this mini daily earthquake, relieving the internal pressure of the jostling of the inner core caused the moon's daily transit. When the perigee is closer this increases the vertical land amplitude and the land rise cannot outpace the inner pressure, and an "earthquake" results. For example the moon on 4 September 2010 was the second closest to earth for 2010.

Googling kingtides with earthquakes will give links showing that variations in tide-generating forces are closely connected with higher earthquake-intensity. Higher kingtides bring not only more earthquakes but more water flowing into a bay, with more marine mammals. Smaller earthquakes are more closely aligned to the Land Tide which is a daily occurrence.

Perigees vary during a year and closer perigees can cause larger quakes, but so can apogees. It seems that the months with furthest apogees and close perigees are more vulnerable because of a greater distance variation within a same time frame. See " On the Dependence of Earth's Seismic Activity on Lunar Distances"

The declination cycle is the other big oscillation by the moon, in which it changes hemispheres by virtue of the earth's tilt. Northern declinations are common for earthquakes because at that monthly time the moon's daily arc hugs the horizon, creating greater lateral tug on the surface crust. If you were to attempt to pull over a bucket of water with a rope, you would have more success tying your rope to the handle and pulling it from the side rather than vertically.

1,425 of the 1,861 earthquakes over magnitude 7.0 that happened in the whole world from 1900 to 1996 occurred at or near the extreme value points of the horizontal component of the tide generating forces, which are 77% of the total and much larger than the natural probability. The horizontal component of the tide generating forces (pulling sideways from the horizon), not from the vertical one refers to northern /southern declination.

A 1968 US study found that during 1940–1964 three-fourths of all earthquake energy was released when the position of the moon was over the northern hemisphere of the Earth (at the northern apparent declination of the Moon). This positional relationship pertains to the seismic foci of the northern, as well as the southern hemispheres. The position of the Moon in its orbit is related to the seismicity of the American continent, which released more than 82% of global earthquake energy during the northern lunar declination.

Then there is the correlation of Maximum and Minimum northern lunar declination and great earthquakes, including the four largest, being Chile 22 May 1960 (within a day of lunar equinox), Alaska 28 March 1964(day of lunar equinox), Sumatra 26 December 2004(day of northern declination) and Kamchatka 4 November 1952 (day before northern declination). The odds over 55 years of four dates picked at random by nature to suffer huge catastrophes only at lunar declination maximum peaks and minimum troughs is too coincidental. It appears that more earthquakes occur in the W Pacific region with declinations of over 23deg, but the opposite in the US. It meas that since 2011 (23deg) the numbers of Pacific earthquakes may be averagely declining.  

In a 2001 China study  (Research on Correlation of Positions of Celestial Objects with Earthquakes) it was found that major global earthquakes, especially above magnitude 7.0 are affected by the positions of celestial objects. The node of the lunar orbit with the earth''s orbit moves westwards on the ecliptic, with a period of 18.6 years. The precession of the lunar ascending node causes the inclination between the moon''s path and the celestial equator to change continuously from 18.28° to 28.58°. The seismic activities of the main seismic belts in the world are affected by the period of 18.6 years and only their active periods appear alternately, which shows that different locations of the moon correspond to different seismic belts or regions on the earth.

The most common time for seismic activity in the W Pacific seems to be 10am-4pm and 10pm-4am Strandings seem to mostly occur either on northern declination or 10 days after e.g the northern declination on 13 February 2011, almost 10 days before the 22 February earthquake.



Animals behave strangely right before or during a big earthquake. Cows on a Canterbury farm, making their slow way up the race to the milking shed at 4.30am on 4 September 2010, suddenly as a herd all sat down at once in the mud. The 7.1M earthquake rumbled through a few seconds later. A number of Christchurch people reported being woken up shortly before the quake by birds making a lot of noise at four in the morning.  The official explanation is that the worms, feeling the vibrations or something, were moving quickly to the surface.

A scuba diver in the Catlins around lunchtime on 22 February 2011 was unaware of the 107 whales stranding on Stewart Island the day before. But he suddenly noticed where one moment the sea was full of fish, the next moment he could see no fish in the sea. Looking down he saw them all lying on the botrtom very much alive. He went down, poked one and it moved about a metre away. The Catlins is a fair way from Stewart Island and Christchurch, but earthquakes affect a very large area at once.

Around the time of the recent earthquakes many reports flooded blogs. Bees were seen to orbit a house just before a big shake, people reported twiching and headaches, horses reacting in fear, birds going silent, and in one observation crickets poured out of a basement. There are many accounts to be found on the internet. If earthquakes affect fish, birds, humans, insects and stock, then why not whales?



The possibility of a pattern became evident when on the 27 November 1997 a 5.7M earthquake occurred at latitude -41.09 and longitude 173.52, to the top of the South island.  Strandings simultaneously occurred in both Australia and NZ around that timeframe with news of strandings in three places, all very distant in miles and having no perceptible geographical connection. November 29th was also the northern declination of the moon. Science looks for connections.

A quick Google search of all mass whale and dolphin stranding dates listed, revealed that most  were at or within a day of Northern declination or 10-days from ND. On the one or two dates that they were not, it had been estimated that the animals had been floating dead for about 10 days before becoming beached, and this 10-day figure put the deaths again at the previous northern declination.

Some deaths were blamed on dolphins becoming trapped in fishing nets because of evidence of extensive lacerations, and fishermen have been sharply rebuked on the basis of this assumption, but it is equally likely deaths occurred at sea due to shellshock from quakes, and lacerations may have been due to other fish, mainly sharks, feeding on the floating carcases.

Critics may say that the below is cherry-picking, which is a valid point. But these articles showed up quickly upon Googling strandings, and most were northern-declination related, in that they happened either on or within a few days of northern declination. Sometimes it is hard to tell the exact day whales died, as they drift until a tide takes them to a beach.

It is not saying that at every northern declination a whale strands somewhere, although that may well be the case, but no one has listed all strandings. Plus, many may happen on deserted beaches. Nor am I claiming that every stranding only takes place on northern declination, because again, not enough data has been gathered to establish proof. It is up to the reader to decide.

What is at issue for whale-watchers and sympathisers is whether or not the moon is linked to strandings, for then we might erect prediction and early detection systems and be able to more quickly marshal rescue teams. For all NZ strandings January is the most prevalent month followed by February and March. July is the least popular.

The below are only a fraction of the dates on file, simply to spare the reader pages and pages of reportings. One link might be considered coincidence but 25 is hard to dismiss. There is surely something to be looked into here and science media spokespeople might wish to reconsider their beliefs that there is no connection whatsoever between the moon (northern declinations) and whale strandings.

The whales deserve better.



18 Nov 1997
Northern declination: 17/11/97 UTC
FALMOUTH, Mass. (AP) -- Oceanographers found 10 dolphins stranded at low tide in knee-deep water off Cape Cod. Rescuers saved three by trucking them to a beach with deeper water, but the rest died. The dolphins were first spotted Saturday in Buzzards Bay, which was unusual for this time of year.

Aug 26, 2000
Northern declination: 25th
On Saturday, August 26th, 30 Atlantic white-sided dolphins stranded in Herring River in Wellfleet, MA.

January and February of 1998
Northern declinations: Jan 11th, Feb 7th
A staggering 97 dolphins died during a stranding event that took place in January and February of 1998. Carcasses were recovered over a four-week period from over 25 miles of shoreline between Dennis and Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Eighty of these were Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) and 16 were common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Unfortunately none were found to be healthy enough to be relocated or saved for rehabilitation.

July 4, 2000
Northern declination July 1, 2000
There was a mass stranding of 11 pilot whales on Nantucket Island, on the 4th of July. The weather was clear and calm and the animals showed no obvious underlying health problems. This was the first pilot whale mass stranding to occur in this region since 1992.

Monday, November 29, 2004.
Northern declination: 29th
A total of 97 whales and dolphins died after becoming stranded at King Island off north-western Tasmania, while another 53 whales beached themselves off the state's east coast. 80 whales and dolphins were counted dead on the beach at Sea Elephant Bay on King Island. More mammals were spotted moving several hundred metres off shore but were found dead, taking the total count to 97 dead.

28th Nov 2004
Northern declination 29th Nov
In New Zealand rescuers succeeded in returning to the sea 20 of the 21 pilot whales found alive on a beach near Whangamata on the North Island's east coast, and put down the last one.  More than 50 of the pod of 73 whales, which lay undiscovered on isolated Opoutere beach until Monday, had died.

The stranding came within a day of two mass strandings in Tasmanian waters within 24 hours.  Fifty-three long-finned pilot whales ran ashore at Darlington Bay on Maria Island.

20th June 2004
Northern declination: 19th
NOUAKCHOTT - More than a hundred dolphins, eight marine turtles and five beaked whales washed up dead on the windswept beaches of southern Mauritania in recent days

23rd May 2004
Northern declination: 22nd
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Scientists were studying a whale who died of heat exposure on Tuesday when it became stranded on a beach on Indonesia's Java Island after 49 others were successfully pushed back into the sea. The short-finned pilot whale may have been the leader of a school of 50 whales who were found beached in Banyuwangi in eastern Java on Sunday, said Putu Riza Mustika, a researcher for World Wide Fund for Nature Indonesia.

14th Feb, 2004
Southern declination:17th
Four of six pygmy sperm whales stranded at Taemaro Bay, north-east of Kaitaia

9th January 2004
Northern declination: 7th
The toll of cetacean deaths in the Westcountry rose again yesterday after eight dead dolphins and porpoises were discovered washed up in Cornwall.

5th January 2004
Northern declination 7th
The Department of Conservation is praising the actions of boaties who averted a whale stranding on D'Urville Island.

28th Nov 2003
Southern declination: 26th
Second mass whale beaching in Australia in a week
Australian wildlife officers said Saturday that a sperm whale, which was the sole survivor of the second mass whale beaching in Australia in a week, appeared unharmed by the ordeal. Officers from the Tasmania state Nature Conservation Branch arrived on Flinders Island late Friday and found nine sperm whales dead and one alive but stranded on a sandbank.

26th November 2003
Southern declination: 26th.
More than 110 pilot whales and dolphins died in an unusual mass stranding on Tasmania's remote west coast..

16th November 2003
Northern declination: 13th
Scientists hope autopsy samples will help shed light on how a group of whales met a tragic end on Auckland's West Coast.  Rescuers were unable to save the 12 sperm whales, which beached north of the Manukau Heads yesterday.

25th September 2003
Northern declination: 20th
Nine huge sperm whales - all badly slashed - have become stranded near a reef on Western Australia's rugged southern coast, with at least six of them dead but the others apparently unable to be put down. But wildlife officers say the marine mammals, which are up to 10 metres long, cannot be rescued or removed.

23 Aug, 2003
Northern declination: 23rd
Two dead beluga whales washed ashore Friday 22nd after dozens of the animals were temporarily stranded on the mud flats of Turnagain Arm when they got caught in extreme low tides.  The dead whales were among 46 belugas that were grounded for several hours Thursday near Girdwood, about 40 miles southeast of Anchorage.

20th August 2003
Northern declination: 23rd
Dozens of dead dolphins wash up on Mexico coast
MEXICO CITY - Some 30 dead dolphins have washed on up on Mexico's northwestern coast

1st July 2003
Northern declination: 30th June
Corpses of more than 200 dolphins and turtles,  a total of 230 dead dolphins and at least one pilot whale, as well as the threatened hawksbill and leatherback turtles were found on the southern beaches of Mauritania - between Nouakchott, the capital, and the Senegalese city of Saint-Louis.

18th April 2003 (reported)
Stranded whales in peril
Northern declination: 9th
30 pilot whales beached themselves off the Florida Keys.

17th Jan 2003
Northern declination: 17th
Two pygmy killer whales, discovered swimming erratically off a southern Cha-am beach last Tuesday(14th), have a 50-50 chance of recovery, veterinarians treating them said yesterday.

15th January 2003
Western Australia
Northern declination: 17th
Six stranded whales were towed out to deep water off Busselton yesterday after a rescue attempt involving hundreds of volunteers. The six Gray's beaked whales had strayed into shallow water in Geographe Bay, 4km west of  the South-West town, about 7am.

16th January 2003
Western Australia
Northern declination 17th
A rare Gray's beaked whale, believed to be from a pod rescued earlier this week at Geographe Bay, was today found washed ashore dead. A five metre adult female from the rescued pod was found dead yesterday at Eagle Bay, near Cape Naturaliste, 40 km south from where it was first stranded. Another adult Gray's beaked whale, four metres long, was found today on Yallingup Beach, 264 km south of Perth, at first light.

23 March 2002
Northern declination: 22nd
Whales survive beaching on Kerry strand as 18 others die
More than 20 pilot whales, including up to four young calves, were back at sea yesterday after they survived a dramatic beaching on the Kerry coastline. However, 18 whales died when they became stranded on Saturday morning at Aughacasla Strand near the Maharees.


Northern declinations for 2014
13 January
10 February
9 March
5 April
3 May
30 May
27 June
24 July
20 August
16 September
14 October
10 November
7 December


Moon-earthquake risk days

Moon speeds up between 25 January - 5 February and 21 February - 5 March. Increased moon speed correlates to stress on inner core of the earth, which can lead to increased seismic activity.


Please note that the figures below under “Max Risk” refer to upper limit potentials of magnitudes world wide.  They do not just refer to Christchurch or any other place - a dreadful mistake so many over-enthusiastic science and media reporters made during 2011 when viewing the similar tables we had posted on this website, despite the careful explanations on how to interpret them.


For example this (January) month there is a 7M listed. This table has been viewable since the first day of December (in our free newsletter). We all know that there was NOT a 7M earthquake in NZ on 2 January, but there was an almost-7M in Vanuatu that day. It is because the risk-region we are in extends from Macquarie Island to the Pacific islands.


Purple indicates greater risk times, bold characters even more.

Risk times are not location-specific, but refer to general seismicity. If heightened activity is noticed in earthquake prone areas at or near highlighted dates then extra care should be taken.

See below for key to other abbreviations and symbols.

Abbreviations : 1stQ=first quarter, lastQ=last quarter, P=perigee,(P#4=fourth closest for the year), A=apogee, XhS=moon crossing equator heading south, also called lunar equinox, XhN=moon crossing equator heading north, ^=northern declination, V=southern declination, .RAPR=rapid air pressure rise, RAPD=rapid air pressure drop. Purple bold=most likely periods. Purple unbold=less but still considered likely risk periods


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Wherever you are, if in an earthquake zone, keep an eye on the barometer needle. When there is a sudden rise or drop, of at least 12 points during the course of one day, seismic activity is possible in your region. Here are the most recent examples. The last largest shakes have occurred as shown by the circles. There was also a 3.9M in Seddon on the 15th and a 4M at Opunake on the 25th, not circled here but we can see the sudden pressure variations.:


Palmerston North air pressures, January 2014

Why is air pressure variation a possible signal for earthquakes? The reason is that air pressure is monitored by ocean-level, which in turn responds daily to the Land Tide beneath the sea. Earthquakes are a function of sudden vertical displacements of the Land Tide. The air pressure is due to fall over the next few days, and if this is rapid the next earthquake potential risk times in this region may be 29 January-3 February, with the greatest drop expected 5th-7th,  Seismic activity typically begins in nearby underwater locations and so may be closely followed by strandings or near standings

(Update: news just in: a 5.2M at Tuatapere,
signalling the start of the next round of shakes as tweeted over a week ago .)

So far the science for all this is virtually nonexistant because geologists do not recognise the moon-induced Land Tide.nor the connection between land, sea and atmosphere. But we can and do, for the newsletters, look a month ahead to work out trends of air pressure drops from lunar cycles in the past, and we have shown this to be a successful method.

Earthquakes, according to mainstream science, are only a function of the random rubbing together of surface plates upon the crust of the earth. Perhaps this outlook needs updating, because if state funding was directed at lunar influences and connections were established, we might be better forewarned about earthquakes which might lower anxiety for those living in earthquake-prone areas.

Predict Weather 2009 ©