Friday, August 23

Museum official clarifies: It is a young Bryde’s whale

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SAME SPECIES: The skeleton of a Bryde’s Whale retrieved in Pusa in 1909 on display at the Sarawak Museum.

KUCHING: The carcass that was washed ashore and found near D’Cove Pasir Panjang Family Park on Saturday morning had been officially identified as a Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera Edeni) by the Museum Department.

According to museum deputy director and curator of Natural History Dr Charles Leh, this was the first record of a Bryde’s Whale found in Kuching Division.

“This was the first recorded Bryde’s Whale in Kuching. We have previous record of the same species washed ashore in Pusa in 1909. The skeleton of that is on display at the Sarawak Museum.

“This is considered an important find as it shows that this mammal can still be found, even though very rare.

“Bryde’s Whale is a globally protected species. They can often  be found in tropical waters, but people seldom see them as they are deep-sea creatures,” he told The Borneo Post when met at Pasir Panjang yesterday.

He said the carcass will be left buried where it is on the Pasir Panjang beach for two months.

“We will leave it in the ground now, so that the flesh will rot away completely. After two months, we will come back to retrieve the bones, which have scientific value. They will be treated and then assembled to be put on display at the museum,” he explained.

Leh said the species, if full grown, can be as long as 40 to 55 feet and weigh 45 tonnes.

“The carcass from Pasir Panjang is still a juvenile whale, judging from its size (of about nine feet). It has been dead for about two weeks as what was washed ashore was highly decomposed. What remained were mostly skin and bones.

“Because of the year end rough sea conditions, young whales could easily drift from their parents and face the risk of death,” he said.

The carcass was found on early Saturday morning by a Pelita Holdings employee Mohd Hamzah Man, who was making a cleanliness inspection on the beach of the recreational area.