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Whale carcass to be buried

KOTA KINABALU: THE authorities yesterday moved to bury the 1m-long whale that died in Kuala Penyu. The Fisheries Department made the decision to prevent pollution and at the same time, allow experts, to examine its remains. Two days ago, government agencies and the public launched a desperate attempt to keep the stranded mammal alive at the Kuala Sungai Sitompok beach. Identified as a fin whale of the baleen species, it died about 8pm, nearly 12 hours
after it was first spotted in shallow water nearby.

District fisheries officer Julin Bagang said a contractor was appointed to bury the whale estimated to weigh about 10 tonnes. "We picked a sandy spot not far from the beach," he said, adding this was necessary as the nearest village, Binturu, is about a kilometre away. Julin said they had not received any official request to salvage or collect samples from the carcass, but assured it would be considered. He said the effort was an eye-opening experience for the department and other agencies involved, given their limited knowledge of whales. "We are not even sure if it is a male or female but we believe it is a fin whale of the baleen species based on its basic features. "We tried our best to save it but when darkness fell, I could sense it was dying as the breathing from the blowhole became faster and irregular."

Julin said the whale's final breath was "long, deep and sad" as even the firefighters, wildlife officials and individuals who came to help, fell silent. When word began spreading about the whale being stranded, many made their way there for a glimpse from afar while a few used boats to get close.
Earlier, the Fisheries Department tried guiding it to deeper water but the whale resurfaced and swam towards shore where the water was shallow. In a desperate bid to pull it away, they tried towing it out to sea but failed. By around noon, it was stranded, half submerged on the shore. As the low tide set in from 2pm, the public could walk straight to the whale, which had a black body and white belly, as it laid there until it died.


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