Bryde's whale

Bryde's whale
A Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera brydei) weighing more than 10 tonne washed ashore dead at Thondi in Ramanathapuram district on Friday morning. Local fishermen, who spotted the huge carcass floating one km away from the shore, alerted wildlife officials from Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park (GoMMNP).

Based on the information, wildlife officials deployed fishing boats and towed the carcass to the beach. Veterinary doctors inspected the carcass and found that performing an autopsy was very difficult.

Forest range officer S Sathish said that the stomach cavity has been exposed and it should have been dead for more than 20 days. Looking at the carcass, they deduced that it should have been hit by a ship, Sathish said.

However, samples have been collected from the carcass. The whale, a fully grown female, weighed more than 10 tonne, he said.

The carcass of a Bryde’s whale

The carcass of a Bryde’s whale that was found floating in the sea off Thondi in Tamil Nadu
After collecting the tissue samples, the carcass has been disposed in a huge pit dug in the shore. "We have a forest plantation land with casuarina trees on the shore and the carcass will be duly disposed utilising earthmovers," the official added.

Along the shore, the large fish generally washed ashore is whale shark and an actual whale washing ashore is not usual in this part of shore. Four years ago, there was an incident at Mandapam where the same species washed ashore dead. Local residents recall seeing a carcass of huge whale in Thondi shore 10 years ago.

Bryde's whale is a baleen whale belonging to the same group of blue and humpback whales. It has two rows of baleen plates to feed in place of teeth. At conservation status, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists it as data deficient. Wildlife officials at GoMMNP said that it is a protected species in the country too.