x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

10-metre whale washes up near Fujairah port

The animal had been floating off the coast for more than a week.

A marine biologist said that it was impossible to say what caused the whale's death without a full examination. Courtesy of Shamsun Nahar Sherin
A marine biologist said that it was impossible to say what caused the whale's death without a full examination. Courtesy of Shamsun Nahar Sherin

Crowds gathered to photograph a large whale which washed ashore at low tide near Fujairah port Friday morning.

The animal had been floating off the coast for more than a week.

It was not known whether the animal would be taken away from the beach or left there indefinitely. It has been suggested that the whale's flesh could be stripped and its skeleton put on display. Port authorities were unavailable yesterday to confirm that claim.

Shamsun Nahar Sherin, a 24-year-old teacher who went to photograph the whale yesterday afternoon, was shocked by the size of the leviathan.

"It's really huge," she said. "I've never seen a whale this big before."

Ms Sherin said that the whale was around 10 metres long and four metres across.

A Fujairan for 22 years, she said this was the first time in living memory that a whale had beached in the emirate.

"My dad said that the last time this happened was around 30 years ago, but that was in Kalba," she said, referring to an exclave of Sharjah.

Ms Sherin said that the Fujairah whale was covered in thick black oil.

However experts said that it was unlikely that the animal died because of contact with oil. "Oil floats, so it's not going to bother these guys," said John Burt, a marine biologist and assistant professor at New York University Abu Dhabi.

"If its one which feeds on plankton, that's going to be subsurface anyway."

However, Prof Burt said that it was impossible to determine the cause of death without looking at the animal.

"Who knows if it was a boat impact or whether it was just natural?" he said. "If it's 10 metres long, it's obviously fairly old. Maybe it just died of old age."

The species of the whale has also not yet been determined.

mcroucher@thenational.ae