Giant squid, whale or unknown sea monster? Debating its identity was all the rage last week after Indonesians posted photos of the strange creature on the Internet. Measuring 15 metres long, it was beached on 9 May on Hulung beach on the Indonesian island of Seram.
37-year-old Asrul Tuanakota discovered it and thought it was a washed-up boat. But when he approached, he quickly realized that it was an animal that had probably been dead for several days and was in a state of decomposition. Upon inspection, local fishermen thought it was a giant squid before the authorities took over.
According to specialists, the most likely possibility is that this is a whale, perhaps a blue whale because of its size, but as for the exact species, this is yet to be confirmed. Samples have been taken and tests are in progress to find out more.
Its advanced state of decomposition indicates that the whale would have been dead for at least two weeks and would have been brought to the beach by the waves or the current, according to Alexander Werth, a marine biologist from Hampden-Sydney College interviewed by LiveScience. The cause of its death, however, remains unknown but some clues indicate a few leads.
If the animal has fractured ribs, for example, his death could result from a collision with a boat. It may also have been a victim of a bacterial infection that would now be difficult to detect. One thing is sure, according to specialists: the carcass must definitely be emitting a particularly nauseating odour by now.
A nauseating carcass
The intestines of whales contain many bacteria that remain even after death. Decomposition and the bacteria associated with it produce gases that cause the carcass to swell and produce a slightly unpleasant smell. ‘That's another reason you do not want to get close to these things,’ said Werth.
‘Not only because it's a frightening creature but because it releases quite poisonous and toxic gases,’ he continued. For this reason, the specialist recommended that people do not bathe and drink the surrounding water. For their part, the fishermen have asked for help from the authorities to remove the remains of the animal, according to the Jakarta Globe.