Whale beached in Karawang dies after return to sea
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Leviathan’s demise: A boat passes the carcass of a whale as it is taken out to the ocean by an Indonesian Sea and Coast Guard vessel (unseen) off the coast of Bekasi, West Java. The whale’s body was taken to Thousand Island National Park, where it was submerged. JP/Ricky YudhistiraThe hard work and the tears of joy of volunteers and rescuers who thought they had succeeded in saving a stranded sperm whale beached off the northern coast of Tanjungpakis, in West Java’s Karawang, on Saturday, turned to tears of sorrow when the whale was found dead.
The carcass of the 12-meter animal was found by a fisherman in Muaragembong, Bekasi, West Java, on Sunday morning and the finding reported to the Muaragembong police precinct.
“The carcass smelled really bad. The skin on the back had peeled due to the sun, but we found no wounds,” said Gabby, a volunteer at the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), as quoted by kompas.com.
“Some scratches were found on the tail, just like we saw before we released the whale. Blood was coming from the eyes. Internal bleeding, I suppose. In the mouth, we found some traces of blood, but we are not sure about it because it must have been mixed with seawater,” Gabby explained.
The dead whale was found around 100 meters from the shore, lying in one meter of water.
The location is quite remote and the shore is thick with mangroves so it was difficult for the ill-fated whale to swim back to the open sea as the area is muddy.
The nearest housing area is Kampung Beting, around 4 kilometers inland.
The area cannot be reached by car so rescuers had to cross the Citarum River and take a boat from the estuary.
Volunteers from JAAN and Tagana immediately secured the whale from onlookers who started to swarm the area.
“It is dangerous to touch the body with bare hands. We must use gloves for fear of disease,” said Gabby.
The whale, which weighed over 2 tons and was 18 meters long, ran ashore on Wednesday.
For a few days, volunteers and rescuers struggled to drag the whale back into sea. Four ships, several tugboats and rubber dinghies were utilized in the attempt.
On Saturday, the whale was released at a depth of 20 meters, which enabled the animal to move freely.
The success was welcomed by the volunteers from the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) and Sagara and Tagana search-and-rescue teams. Several previous attempts to free the doomed whale were to no avail.
Problems faced by the rescuers were that the ships and boats deployed to drag the giant animal were too small and the fastening tools used by the rescuers broke off.