Whales beach themselves all of the time. But, they’re never found on land, in the depth of the Amazon jungle. For this reason, you can likely imagine the surprise of Brazilian wildlife experts were when they discovered a dead humpback whale in the rainforest.
According to The Independent, the 10-ton mammal was discovered in the jungle overgrowth on the island of Marajo, near the mouth of the Amazon river. The leading theory is that the whale landed onshore during the storm. Scientists are unsure how this would occur, however. They’re also baffled by why the whale swam so far inland, or why it was swimming off the coast at all.
Officials from Para state’s health, sanitation, and environment department found the whale when they followed the birds of prey, which were scavenging its carcass. Because the remains were located in a remote part of the mangrove swamp in the Amazonian delta, it took two trips for the wildlife experts to reach the dead whale.
Experts believe the whale died several days before it was found. To unearth more details, marine specialists from the Bicho D’agua Institute are examining the carcass.
“We’re still not sure how it landed here, but we’re guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore and the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland, into the mangrove,” said Renata Emin, the institute’s project leader. “Along with this astonishing feat, we are baffled as to what a humpback whale is doing on the north coast of Brazil during February because this is a very unusual occurrence.”
Emin believes the whale is a calf and was separated from its mother while migrating south. It is common for humpback whales to travel this route between August and November. Of course, it is very rare for a whale to travel the thousands of kilometers north to the mouth of the Amazon river.
“Depending on the state of decomposition, some information may already have been lost,” said Emin. “We are collecting as much information as we can get and identifying marks and wounds on its body to see if it was caught in a net or hit by a boat.”
According to Dirlene Silva, of the state environment department, the whale’s carcass will be left where it “crash-landed” into the jungle.
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h/t The Independent