Bali: beached sperm whale is rescued, but dies returning to shore again

A tragedy happened in Bali, which once again affected a cetacean

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Bali: beached sperm whale is rescued, but dies returning to shore again

A tragedy happened in Bali, which once again affected a cetacean. An 18-metre sperm whale stranded on a beach. The beached animal had resumed the open sea thanks to the help of the people and thanks to the help of the high tide.

However, then tragedy struck. After returning to sea, the next day the animal stranded again in the Klungkung area and died. It is not excluded that he may have been killed by ingesting plastic, a frequent cause of death for sperm whales, the largest living predators on Earth.

The sperm whale is the largest of all Odontoceti and the largest living animal with teeth: in fact, it measures up to 18 meters in length.

The sperm whale's enormous head and distinctive shape, as well as its central role in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, have led many to describe it as the archetypal whale. Also due to Melville the sperm whale is commonly associated with the Leviathan of the Bible.

Sperm whales were hunted until recently in the Portuguese Atlantic archipelago of the Azores. The sperm whale is also the state animal of Connecticut.
Perhaps to research the most famous story about a sperm whale one has to go back to 1970, when a decomposing animal weighing 7.25 tons and 13.7 m long washed ashore in Oregon.

For some time it was a curiosity for local residents. Since the beach is a public transit right, it was up to members of the Oregon Department of Transportation to take care of this. They filled the animal with half a ton of dynamite.

On Friday, November 12, the dynamite was detonated, but the blast did not head towards the Pacific as expected. No one was injured, but a car was destroyed by the rain of grease. The spectators were covered in smelly bits of dead sperm whale.

In January 2004 a much more striking event took place in the spotlight of the global media. A dead sperm whale measuring 17m long and weighing 50 tons washed up on a beach in Tainan City, Taiwan. As it was being transported to the city's university, the pressure of decomposition gases inside the body caused an explosion.

No one was injured, but blood and viscera spilled over some cars and overwhelmed pedestrians. The total number of sperm whales worldwide is unknown. Approximate estimates, obtained from the reconnaissance of small areas and extrapolating the result from all the oceans of the world, vary from 200,000 to 2,000,000 individuals.

Although the sperm whale has been hunted for some centuries for its meat, oil and spermaceti, the conservationist outlook for the sperm whale is brighter than that of many other whales. Although a small-scale coastal fishery still survives in Indonesia, it is protected virtually worldwide.

Fishermen do not catch the deep sea creatures that sperm whales feed on, and the deep sea is probably more resistant to pollution than the surface layers. However, recovery from the whaling years is a slow process, especially in the South Pacific, where the toll on breeding males has been severe.