KUALA TERENGGANU, January 10 — Two years after the carcass of a goose-beaked whale was “buried” on the shores of Beting Lintang near Besut, its bones were finally unearthed and fully gathered by a Marine Endangered Species Rescue team yesterday.
Members of the special team from the Rantau Abang Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) took two days from Sunday to locate, dig, collect and rearrange the bones of the mammalian skeleton.
Team leader Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad said they did not collect the bones when the whale was found dead two years ago because there was high risk of zoonotic disease infection.
“When we first arrived at the location where the whale died, we decided to bury it for between eight months and two years, because after that period the risk of zoonotic disease infection is less threatening.
“After two years of being buried here, the flesh of the dead mammal has gone through a complete decomposition process. We dug as deep as 1.5 metres to get to the carcass and found thick layers of fat still attached to its bones.
“The bones have been brought back to the Rantau Abang FRI for a six-month preservation process, after which it will be put on exhibition at the Endangered Marine Species Gallery,” he told Bernama today.
The goose-beaked whale or its scientific name Ziphius Cavirostris once shocked residents around Besut, Terengganu when it was found dead on the beach.
Elaborating, Mohd Tamimi said this cetacean was an endangered marine species listed in the Fisheries Act 1985 (Endangered Species of Fish (Amendment) Regulations 2008).
“The public are not allowed to disturb, trap, kill, hunt, sell or own this animal or its carcass.
“Should there be a conviction under the Fisheries Act 1985 the guilty party shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of two years or a fine of up to RM20,000, or both,” he said.
He said the cause of the whale’s death was identified as due to natural illness after consuming garbage dumped in the sea, including plastic bottles and packaging materials, as found in the mammalian's gut.
“As such, the Rantau Abang FRI wishes to advise the public who come across endangered marine species, whether they are stranded alive or dead, to immediately report to the State and District Fisheries Office or any nearest FRI.
“It is important to rescue them or conduct a postmortem and with quick action from of our members, who will act within 12 to 24 hours, we may be able to save the lives of the sea animals,” he added. — Bernama