Heartbreaking footage shows a whale with a severely broken back struggling to swim

An aerial view of the fin whale with a deformed spine, an injury it likely received from a collision with a ship. (Image credit: Oceanographic Valencia)

A fin whale with a severely deformed spine was recently filmed struggling to swim off Spain’s Mediterranean coast. This extreme case of scoliosis was likely caused by a ship collision and is likely to slowly starve the gentle giant to death, experts say.

The injured 17-meter fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) was spotted on March 4 by the crew of a boat off a beach at Cullera near Valencia. The captain of the boat thought the whale was caught in a fishing net and alerted the Spanish Guardia Civil, who sent a team of biologists and veterinarians from the Oceanographic Valencia aquarium. After arriving at the scene, it became clear that the whale was not trapped; Instead, it had “scoliosis of unknown origin,” according to one Facebook message (opens in new tab) of Oceanographic Valencia.

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