Science

Whale washed up on Seine Island likely towed at high tide – Science et Avenir

The carcass of the whale, washed ashore on Seine Island since Friday, could be towed away due to expected tides later in the week, Finistère prefecture said, adding that the cause of death is still unknown.

The 19 meter and 25 ton animal “was in a state of significant weight loss and physical deterioration,” according to surveys conducted by a team from the Iroise Marine Natural Park, the prefecture points out in a press release, which says “very thin fat between 3 and 4 cm, which is far below normal for an animal of this size.”

“At this stage and pending further analysis, no specific indication allows us to accurately determine grounding conditions and causes of death,” the same source states.

Since Friday, the whale has been stranded on the islet of Kelauru, southeast of Sein Island, on a rocky plateau in a position that does not allow it to be towed or cut in place.

“However, it remains possible that the tides allow the corpse to move. Then it would be possible to consider the possibility of towing it to the mainland (directly at sea or from a more favorable place for grounding),” the prefecture clarifies.

Tidal coefficients above 100 are expected from Saturday to Monday.

“Before the weekend, an expert mission will be carried out by the maritime prefecture to clarify methods for raising and then towing the carcass in the event of a grounding,” the same source says.

The whale carcass was equipped with a tracking beacon so that you can track its position in real time.

“The onset of putrefaction at this stage does not pose a health risk,” adds the prefecture, which, however, warns that “the animal must not be approached outside of specialized services.”

Beached fin whales are relatively rare. In 2020, five individuals of this species were recorded on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a report from the Pelagis Observatory, a specialist in marine mammals.

Since the 1970s, the global population of fin whales, once considered “endangered,” has almost doubled thanks to international whaling bans, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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