Video courtesy of Ruptly Tv
On Tuesday last week, a huge, fleshy blob washed up on the shores of Hulung Beach in Serum Island, Indonesia. Running the waters red with blood and grease, and filling the air with an awful stench, locals rushed around the 15-metre long decomposing carcass, perplexed as to what on earth it was. A local man, Asrul Tuanakota, 37, stumbled across the carcass in the dark and actually mistook it for a stranded boat, reports the Jakarta Globe. The following morning, locals came out to inspect the body, with some convinced that it was the remains of a giant squid.
The internet was equally taken aback as the clip went viral – headings referred to it as a monster from the depths of the ocean, and internet-users shared their ideas on what they thought it was. Alas, some of our more imaginative friends may be slightly disappointed. Well… there’s still some debate about what particular species it is, but it is quite clear that it is a whale.
Live Science spoke to Alexander Werth, a whale biologist at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, who was adamant that the carcass is that of a baleen whale. He said, “there is lots of stuff in the ocean that we don’t know about — but there’s nothing that big.” His reasoning is drawn from two pieces of evidence. The first is the “throat pleats”, and the second is the upper jaw where the two racks of baleen plates would have been – these are used to filter out food from the animal’s mouth. Regardless, he notes that the jury is still out as to whether it is a blue whale or a Bryde’s whale.
How did it die exactly? Well, the jury is out on that one, too. Generally, whales sink to the bottom of the ocean to be a feast for all sorts of critters, fishes, sharks and others.
That it washed up ashore as an inflated, floating carcass – which is not unheard of – indicates an irregular means of death. It could have been hit by a ship, the impact of which caused internal injuries that prevented the gases – caused by bacteria in the gut – from escaping into the environment. Alternatively, it may have had a nasty bacterial infection. Only investigation will reveal more.