The bloated carcass of an alleged Bryde’s whale washed ashore near a beach close to Juhu Tara Road on Thursday evening.
This is the 10th such instance since last year of dead mammals washing ashore in Mumbai and the second instance of a whale washing ashore in Maharashtra after a 42-long foot blue whale washed up in Alibaug in August last year.
According to officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) disaster management cell, local residents informed the Mumbai fire brigade regarding the carcass at around 8.11pm on Thursday evening.
“After we were notified about the presence of the whale at around 8.56 pm on Thursday evening by fire officials, we informed the forest department and BMC officials to reach the spot behind JW Marriot Hotel at Juhu,” said Narendra Mane from BMC disaster control.
Officials from the state Mangrove cell told Hindustan Times that the whale has been identified as a fully grown Bryde’s whale that had died in the deep seas two to three days prior to Thursday.
30 feet Whale on juhu beach .. What's happening in Mumbai ??? pic.twitter.com/0KBzND1zbB— Sameera Gawandi (@sameeratweeter) January 29, 2016
The actual size of the whale though is yet to be determined as the BMC estimated it was 35 foot-long mammal while the Mangrove cell said the whale was a 50 foot-long Bryde whale.
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, Mangrove cell said, “We are yet to ascertain the cause of the whale’s death. However, through initial investigations, it has been revealed that it is a fully grown adult. There are no lacerations on the mammal’s body but most of the internal organs are mutilated.”
Vasudevan added that the current condition of the body is such that a post mortem may not be possible. “We are trying to see whether the body can be taken for post mortem but due to the mammal’s sheer size and mutilated organs, we do not think conducting the same would be possible. However, tissue samples and measurements would be collected before the body is disposed,” he said adding that the forest department, in consultation with BMC, has not decided on whether to burn the carcass or bury it at the beach.
Another forest officer at the location pointed out that the number of cases that had been increasing was worrying for the Konkan coast. “We have been investigating the matter since last year but have not found any specific reason with regard to the increase in the number of cases since last year. However, we can safely state that the deaths have been mostly due to old age,” said the official.
A specific reason behind whale beaching is determined only in 50% of such cases, with a high frequency in North America. Though a science under progress, India is yet to catch up with the research its European and American peers have done so far.