KANAGAWA (TR) – Researchers will attempt to determine the cause of death of a 10-meter-long blue whale that washed ashore at a beach in Kamakura City earlier this week, reports TBS News (Aug. 6).
At around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, users of the Yuigahama Beach tipped off police after seeing the whale drifting in the waves just off shore. It was confirmed dead in the water.
A researcher from the National Museum of Nature and Science who visited the beach on Monday said that it is a blue whale based on the shape of its pectoral fin and skin color. “Adult blue whales grow to 30 meters in length as adults, which makes this one, a mere 10 meters and 57 centimeters, still a baby,” said researcher Yuko Tajima.
Largest animal on earth
The blue whale is the largest animal on earth. Commercial whaling in 19th and the 20th centuries caused its numbers to drop significantly. With thousands living oceans in both hemispheres, the animal is an endangered species.
This is the first case of a blue whale beaching itself along a shore in Japan. On Monday, workers using a backhoe dragged the animal up onto the shore. Initially, the city planned to bury the animal. However, the body has been deemed as valuable from a research perspective, with the contents of its stomach set to be examined to determine the cause of death.
Tajima said little is known about blue whales in waters in Japan. “Whether or not its parents and children are swimming around Japan, [this whale] is tremendously valuable worldwide,” she said.