JAKARTA In­done­sian vol­un­teers save six beached whales in Aceh

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

IN­DONE­SIAN vol­un­teers man­aged to save six whales beached on the north­ern tip of Su­ma­tra but four died, a con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cial said on Tues­day.

The res­cuers worked late into Mon­day night to free six of 10 mas­sive sperm an­i­mals us­ing ropes and pa­trol boats and turn them back into the wa­ters off Aceh prov­ince.

“Some peo­ple got in­jured on the co­ral and the high tide was also an ob­sta­cle, but we tried our best,” said Sapto Aji Prabowo, head of the Aceh con­ser­va­tion agency.

“It is an im­por­tant les­son for us on how to evac­u­ate such huge an­i­mals if it hap­pens again.”

Prabowo said it was not known why the sperm whales, which are among the big­gest mam­mals on the planet, had washed up in shal­low wa­ter.

“We plan to col­lect sam­ples from the dead whales to de­ter­mine the cause of death and for fu­ture re­search,” he said.

Of­fi­cials will bury the dead whales as soon as pos­si­ble as there is a risk of gases build­ing up and caus­ing the car­casses to ex­plode.

Ear­lier this year, au­thor­i­ties in New Zealand had to cut holes in hun­dreds of pilot whales that washed up on beaches on the South Is­land to keep them from bloat­ing and ex­plod­ing.

“If we leave them there to rot, that could also cause dis­ease,” said Prabowo.

Vol­un­teers will use ex­ca­va­tors to move and bury the an­i­mals. An adult sperm whale can grow up to 12 me­tres and weigh up to 57 tonnes.

Though un­usual, whale beach­ings have been seen in other parts of In­done­sia, a vast ar­chi­pel­ago of over 17,000 is­lands.

In 2016, 29 pilot whales were briefly trapped in a man­grove swamp off the east­ern coast of Java, but man­aged to free them­selves or were helped back out to sea by fish­er­men.

Of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously said 12 whales had been stranded in Aceh.

Photo: AP

Res­cuers at­tempt to push stranded whales back into the ocean at Ujong Kareng beach in Aceh prov­ince, In­done­sia, on Mon­day.

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