Appreciating the Support System in Living Things


Beached whales

1. Every year, aquatic mammals such as dolphins and whales get beached or stranded in shallow water.


2. When whales are stranded, they are unable to support themselves and will die because their weight will crush their internal organs.


3. Many reasons are given as to why some whales get beached or stranded in shallow water:

(a) Occasionally, stranded whales are found to be suffering from infections of the inner ear which may affect their ability to navigate using echoes. Confronted with rough seas, they may stray too close to the shore.

(b) Certain topographical features may lead to strandings. Wide, gently sloping beaches are not detected by the reflection of sonar pulses. This may result in the whales approaching too close to the shore.

(c) In the case of stranded small whales and dolphins, it is possible that larger whales have panicked the herd, forcing them to the shore.


4. Some ways to help beached or stranded whales:

(a) The first priority to save stranded whales is to inform the marine department. Try to provide details on the exact location of the stranded whales, their numbers, condition, and the species concerned (if you know).

(b) With the help of other rescuers, attempt to place the whales on their bellies. Sand and water can enter the blowhole and drown them if they are left lying on their sides.

(c) Try to turn the whales so that they face the shore. This will allow them time to feel a wave coming with their tails and close their blowholes.

(d) Overheating is a big problem for stranded whales. Dig holes for the flippers so that they are hanging free. Then, allow water to enter these holes to assist in cooling, as the flippers and tail are important areas for heat exchange.

(e) Cover the body of the whale (except the blowhole) with wet towels or seaweed to reduce the burning and drying effects of sun and wind.


The crippled
1. A cripple is a person who is partly or wholly unable to use one or more of his limbs, especially the legs.


2. A person may become crippled due to injury or disease to his muscular, skeletal or nervous system.


3. The person may need a cane, crutches or a walking frame to provide him with additional support.


4. Some ways to help a crippled person:

(a) Offer help when you think it is needed but do not insist on it.

(b) Do not take away crutches, cane or walking frame from the cripple unless he has indicated that he would like them removed.