The Fiji Times

A whale of a rush

- By MATILDA SIMMONS

A BIG crowd of people swarmed out to the main reef at Suva near Sandbank Passage to extricate the teeth of a 60 foot whale which was found aground inside the breakers.

The Fiji Times on Thursday June 24, 1965 reported the giant mammal was discovered by four women and a man on Tuesday while they were on the reef fishing.

The women were Marama Ralawa, wife of Ratu Seru Ralawa, Suva’s health administra­tor, B Sessen, Mere Salaiwai and Polly Duthie, of Nasese.

When a reporter from this newspaper visited the scene about 4.30pm on Tuesday, men and women were busy digging into the jaw and head of the whale with spades and crowbars and backing away the blubber with knives and axes.

The whale, apparently, had been dead for some days when it was discovered on Tuesday. Up until Wednesday, more than 40 teeth (tabua) had been taken from the lower jaw.

The people could not get at the upper jaw because this had collapsed to the right, leaving the lower jaw slightly exposed.

“Approachin­g it from a distance, we thought it was a rock,” Mrs Marama said.

“But it seemed peculiar because the ‘rock’ had not been there on a previous fishing expedition. We decided to go and investigat­e”.

The group left their punt and on closer examinatio­n, they noticed the exposed lower jaw, and the teeth.

Mrs Marama said the party managed to obtain 26 tabua before they left.

Word spread quickly on Tuesday night and at daybreak, two men braved the cold wind and made a trip to the whale.

They were soon joined by more people as the day wore on.

“The front teeth were easy to pull out but the back teeth wouldn’t budge”, a young man told the reporter. We soon gave it up as a bad job and though we spent the whole day, we were not rewarded for our work.”

The whale was reported to be the first to go aground on the main Suva reef in recent years.

The front teeth were easy to pull out but the back teeth wouldn’t budge”, a young man told the reporter. We soon gave it up as a bad job and though we spent the whole day, we were not rewarded for our work – One of the two men

 ?? Picture: FILE ?? Busy investigat­ors stand on the top of the head of a 60ft whale which was found stranded and dead inside the main Suva reef on Tuesday. People were out on the reef in large numbers digging for the teeth (tabua).
Picture: FILE Busy investigat­ors stand on the top of the head of a 60ft whale which was found stranded and dead inside the main Suva reef on Tuesday. People were out on the reef in large numbers digging for the teeth (tabua).

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