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Dead sperm whale washes ashore at Zote Beach in Kwale

Sunday September 16 2018

sperm whale

The 14-metre long sperm that was found dead on September 16, 2018 at Zote Beach in Whale, Kwale County. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FADHILI FREDRICK
By FADHILI FREDRICK
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A sperm whale has been discovered dead at Zote Beach in Waa along the Indian Ocean shoreline in Kwale County.

It was a rare spectacle at the public beach as locals thronged to the scene to see the giant fish, with some taking photos.

SMELL

Mr Ali Salim, who lives in Waa village, said the mammal was discovered by fishers on Saturday before officers from the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) were called in.

Residents suspect the creature died in the ocean two to three days ago before its carcass washed ashore.

“There is a need for a detailed study to determine the cause of death," Mr Salim told the Nation on Sunday.

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Locals complained of the pungent smell that was emanating from the mammal, with businesses of flies reminding visitors that all was not well.

Mr Salim said they suspected the whale may cause a health hazard to the villagers and tourists who swim and party at the beach.

He called on KWS to move with speed and clear the mess.

KWS Community Warden Edward Karanja said the mammal is estimated to be 14 metres long and weighs about five tonnes.

STAR DIVER

"At the moment we are not sure what is the cause of the death but we will found out after the examination," he said.

According to Britannica, sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales, with males up to 19 meters long—more than five times the length of a large elephant—and females up to 12 meters in length.

They are easily recognised by their enormous square head and narrow lower jaw.

They have the largest brain on Earth, more than five times heavier than a human's, and can live for more than 60 years.

The whale’s common name, Britannica says, originated during the heydays of the commercial whaling industry, from the end of the 18th century through the 19th century.

The head of the sperm whale contains an enormous fluid-filled organ and whalers mistook that liquid for the mammal’s sperm.

And according to BBC Earth, sperm whale's enormous box-like head with left-sided blow hole contains the biggest brain of any living animal.

It is also the deepest diving mammal, reaching depths of 3,000 metres (nearly two miles) although the average dive is between 300 and 600 metres.

These dives can last for a couple of hours before the whale has to come up for breath, BBC Earth reports.

Additional report by Harry Misiko.