20-tonne whale's carcass washes ashore

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The mammal weighed around 20 tonnes, according to officials from the mangrove cell.

Mumbai: The carcass of a 13.5-metre-long whale washed ashore on the Uran coast early Thursday morning. The mammal weighed around 20 tonnes, according to officials from the mangrove cell.

The forest department received a call from locals at 9 am, after which they reached the spot to inspect the mammal. Officials stated that it had died of natural causes, and a team will visit the site again on Friday.

“The body of the whale was severely decomposed because of which an autopsy is not possible. From preliminary observation, it seems that it is a blue whale. It has injury marks on the fluke of its tail,” said Shashank Kadam, range
forest officer, Uran. The forest department has collected tissue samples of the mammal for DNA analysis to determine its exact species.

Stating that the whale must have died around three to four days ago, after which it washed ashore, Swapnil Tandel, an independent marine-mammal researcher who was present at the site, said, “It appears to be a blue whale prima facie. This is the third time that a whale has washed ashore in Uran. Two years ago, half a blue whale ended up here.”

According to N. Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, the exact cause of the creature’s death is unknown. “It could be a natural death due to ageing, or other reasons such as parasitic infection or being hit by a ship or a disturbance at sea,” said Mr Vasudevan.

Forest officials will go to the site to figure out how to dispose of the carcass, but the mangrove cell is mulling over preserving its skeleton. “Since it is a rocky beach, we could not bury it. It is also difficult to take machines there to lift it. We are also thinking about preserving its skeleton in the marine interpretation centre in Airoli,” said Mr Vasudevan.

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