The dead baleen whale being towed to port.(Jiang Xiaowei)
A dead whale, found at the mouth of Yangtze River by fishermen, will be preserved as a specimen.
The local agricultural commission said yesterday that the cause of death was still under investigation and dissection would take place.
The male baleen whale, some 22 meters in length, was missing its left fin and had been dead for more than 10 days, experts with Shanghai Ocean University and Shanghai Science and Technology Museum said after a preliminary study yesterday.
The body was highly decayed, they said. The remains were taken to a port in Pudong's Nanhui area on Monday.
“We first noticed the whale on Sunday afternoon,” Lu Haibing, 59, captain of the boat that spotted the whale, told Shanghai Daily. “At first we thought it was an overthrown yacht and then realized it was body of a big creature.”
Asked by the local fishing authority to take the body back to the port, Lu said “we fixed the body to our ship with a rope. It took us about five hours to take the body back, while usually the same journey would take only about an hour.” He estimated the whale weighed 30 tons.
“I've been fishing here for about three decades and this is the first time I saw a whale. But another man of my age from a nearby village said he once saw a stranded whale before when he was a kid.”
Lu believes the fin was removed. “You can see the marks were made by a saw. The fin can be sold at a high price.”
With the help of tides, the body was brought ashore yesterday afternoon, for a further autopsy.
Tang Wenqiao, a professor of ichthyology with Shanghai Ocean University, said it was rare to see such a large whale in Shanghai.
“Baleen whales eat sardines and live usually in big oceans like the Pacific,” Tang said.
He added that as the whale's body was highly decayed, it was hard to tell if it was hurt by nets and brought here or died in the ocean and floated to Shanghai.
According to Tang, Shanghai has less than five specimens of whale of more than 10 meters. “A specimen not only contains a lot of natural information for scientific research, it will also help the public, particularly students, to realize the importance of protecting whales and our nature.”
Last week, Xinhua reported that a sperm whale died after being stranded in southern China's Guangdong Province.
Experts with the Chinese Academy of Sciences detected a failure in the whale's sonar system, the report added.