How Kozhikode solved a 'blue whale' of a problem that washed ashore

People crowd around the carcass of the Blue Whale on Kozhikode Beach on Saturday. Photo: Special arrangement

At first, it caused great amusement when the carcass of a Blue Whale washed ashore on Kozhikode Beach Saturday morning. Hundreds made a beeline for the beach where lay the 15-metre-long (almost 50 feet) carcass.

But in no time, the dead mammal raised a significant question before the authorities: How to get rid of it?

For the city corporation, the Health Department, the Fisheries, Veterinary officers and the local police, this was an unprecedented issue.

According to sources, no carcass of such a size had washed ashore in Kozhikode in recent memory. So, the local authorities did not have the necessary equipment to tackle the problem.

But they stepped up to the task and solved the problem bit by bit, quite literally. By night, the process of burying the carcass on site was underway.

The carcass of the Blue Whale was 15 metres long. Photo: Special arrangement

The giant task
The first big problem before the authorities was to flip it over. For that, they needed a big bulldozer, but it wasn't possible to operate one on the sandy beach. Moreover, it rained throughout the day making the task all the more difficult.

The second problem was disposing of the carcass. They couldn't bury the giant mammal as a whole, so the option was to cut it into pieces. But they could not lay hands on cutters powerful enough to pierce through the whale's thick flesh.

The Fire and Rescue unit couldn't offer any assistance as they were held up clearing roads left in a mess by the heavy rain. Finally, the veterinary team got local fish cutters to do the job.

The carcass was cut in pieces and buried on the beach by Saturday night. Photo: Special arrangement

Blue whale, isn't it?
The authorities have yet to confirm the species. Only a test result from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) can ascertain it.

However, Veterinary Surgeon Dr VS Sreeshma said it was a female whale.

Blue whales usually have 55 to 68 throat grooves that extend from the throat to their navel. The carcass at Kozhikode had 67 of them, which is suggestive of blue whales, said Dr Sreeshma.

Besides the veterinary team, K Pramod, Health Officer in-charge, SHI Biju Jayaram, JHI Subharam from the city corporation's health wing and rescue volunteers undertook the whale of a task. Local police and CMFRI representatives were also present on site.

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