A highly decomposed carcass of a 42 foot-long whale was washed ashore on Uran coast early Thursday morning. Forest officials who went to the spot said it could possibly be a blue whale, but will confirm only after the whale's tissue samples are fully analysed.

"In the past couple of years, there have been quite a few cases of whales washing ashore, including Bryde's whale, blue whale, sperm whale and humpbacks, and many dolphins, turtles too among marine animals,'' said the additional principal chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell) N Vasudevan. He added that it is alarming to document several such beaching of whales, and further study is required to know why it is happening.

Environmentalist D Stalin remarked, "The forest department must start funding a proper research on the causes of such instances of large marine species washing ashore. Besides sea pollution, oil spills, high traffic of cargo vessels, we need scientific evidence on the various factors involved here."

Oceanography researcher Swapnil Tandel, who was also present at Khar Danda shore where the dead whale was found, said: "It certainly looks to be among those belonging to baleen whales group. Because this 20-ton whale is decomposed, it is a bit difficult to fully identify it from its appearance."

Baleen whales are some of the largest animals on earth; they have characteristic baleen plates (to filter seawater) and paired (double) blowholes to help distinguish baleen whales from other varieties.