Conjoined Twin Porpoises Caught in the North Sea

Scientists in the Netherlands have reported the first known sighting of conjoined twin porpoises. The animals were dead when fishers in the North Sea caught them in a net.  

The porpoises were male babies, their age clear by their not-yet-firm dorsal fin, small hairs on their upper jaws and an open umbilicus from where they had been attached to their mother. Their peculiar anatomy was unmistakable: The porpoises each had fully formed heads. Their heads were connected to a single body with the usual two pectoral fins. They were about 2 feet long and weighed about 13 pounds. They were found about 15 nautical miles (about 17 regular miles) west of Hook of Holland, a small town in the southwestern corner of the country.  …

According to a report about the porpoises by Erwin Kompanje, a scientist at the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam, and colleagues, the fishers threw the porpoises back into the water because they feared keeping the dead animals was illegal. They did, however, take a few photographs to document their existence.  

… Normal twinning is extremely rare among cetaceans, the authors of the report note. “There is simply not enough room in the body of the female to give room to more than one fetus,” Kompanje told New Scientist. Adult harbor porpoises give birth to one baby every one to two years, on average. The first known instance of normal harbor porpoise twins was reported in 2014. 

This report of conjoined twin porpoises is the 10th known instance of symmetrical conjoined twins among cetaceans, the scientific name for the marine animal group including whales, dolphins and porpoises. Such twinning also has been found among baleen whales and toothed whales. 
Scientists believe that symmetrical conjoined twins, such as these North Sea porpoises, are the result of either embryonic cells that had been separated fusing together or the incomplete separation of cells from a fertilized ovum. But what causes conjoined twins “remains enigmatic,” the scientists write in Deinsea. 


Porpoises live in the cold waters of coastal bays, tidal channels and estuaries of the Northern hemisphere. There are many along the east and west coasts of North America, the North Sea and the British Isles. They are most commonly seen along the continental shelf (about 6 miles off shore) and usually in water less than 300 feet deep.


On a totally unrelated note, here’s an update on Fukushima, May 2017.

The ongoing restoration work evidently made progress, but decommissioning is still an uphill battle …


… Continuous, intense radiation, at 530 sieverts an hour (4 sieverts is a lethal level), was widely reported in early February 2017 – as if this were a new phenomenon. It’s not. Three reactors at Fukushima melted down during the earthquake-tsunami disaster on March 3, 2011, and the meltdowns never stopped. Radiation levels have been out of control ever since …


Is there any link between radiation and birth defects? My impression from what I have read is that there is a clear correlation. 

… Measuring radiation is difficult, and can produce ambiguous results. But measuring babies with malformations is a concrete matter. Facts are facts here As Dr Vladimir Wertelecki says “ a baby that has no head is a baby that has no head.” …

The program started in 2000, conducting a 10 year study on 5 provinces of the Ukraine – measuring and monitoring all newborn babies. The study, led by Dr Wertelecki, was done in co-operation with Ukraine health authorities. This was a descriptive epidemiological study. It could prove only a difference between geographical areas. It cannot prove the cause of difference.

Within 2-3 years it was obvious that the rates of spina bifida and other defects of the nervous system, were many times greater than expected, particularly in one province. A few years later an excess of conjoined twins (“Siamese twins”) was found. They found other nervous system problems, mainly microcephaly (tiny head) .. After 10 years of study they published a report showing an excess of frequency of anomalies of nervous system and of these conjoined twins.

This was found especially in the northern half of the province – an area that is a unique ecology niche – mainly wetlands. And this area also has a unique population, an ethnic group living there since recorded history. They live in small villages, very isolated, and they rely completely on local foods.

These foods are all radioactive. The soil there is such that plants absorb many times more radioactivity. People there are absorbing much higher levels of radiation. – 20 times more than there would be in soil 50 km. away. …


Radiation is caused by unstable atoms breaking down and emitting high energy particles. The number of these events per second is called a Becquerel (Bq). The total number of Bq is often reported per cubic meter of (264 gallons) of seawater or kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fish.


I found this chart interesting for perspective regarding amount of radioactive pollution released by global nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s:

Okay, 15-30 PBq is a pretty rosy picture given that a report said 940 PBq were released during just the worst two days of the accident, which was 6 years ago. 

The accident was rated 7 on the INES scale, due to high radioactive releases over days 4 to 6, eventually a total of some 940 PBq (I-131 eq).


Where can we see a current radiation map of the oceans? Answer: good luck with that.

There is some limited citizen scientist data here but it doesn’t cover the North Sea.

How bad is 4.4 Bq of Cesium 137 per cubic meter of ocean water? Not bad.

Typical average Radon concentration in open air near the ground is 10 Bq/m3. As a rule, the Radon concentration in buildings is higher and depends on the construction materials. The typical Radon concentration in buildings is 40 Bq/m3. 


It makes me want to take a Geiger counter to the beach. Is the truth being hidden? Some think so. 

A lot of people have geiger counters, so I would think this would be something that you couldn’t hide. I’ll have to dig mine out and check the background radiation. The only time I saw anything in the 300 CPM range was on a flight to Hawaii.

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