By Rae Wiltshire
There was an all-day traffic jam along the East Coast of Demerara yesterday after a dead 45-foot sperm whale estimated to weigh about 35 tons washed up on the Kitty foreshore and the authorities tried several options to have it removed.
The whale was caught in a fisherman’s net on Saturday and it suffered injuries after the fisherman tried pulling it to shore. A search was then conducted by conservationist Annette Arjoon who scoured the sea to find the whale. Unfortunately all attempts to recover it were futile until it washed up on the foreshore this morning attracting multitudes of the curious all through the day.
Several members of the crowd were observed during the day posing on top of the whale taking photos and as the day progressed, and the news went wide and far, more and more people kept coming, much to the annoyance of East Coast commuters.
Those who were unable to make it during the day found themselves at the seawall looking on as the Guyana Sea Defence Unit tried to move the huge animal. The Guyana Sea Defence Unit excavator almost toppled over because it could not handle the weight of the animal.
Two excavators were on the scene when this newspaper arrived and observed them struggling to move the whale. The determined workers then tried pushing and pulling the animal but the whale remained immovable. The frustrated workers had to call for a third excavator and it was only then they were able to shift the whale. This time, a sturdy rope was tied around the animal’s tail and it was pushed, pulled and tugged at until it finally moved a few inches.
Police ranks tried containing the enthusiastic crowd but it was a waste of time. The people manoeuvred to prohibited areas trying to capture the perfect shot. The heavy odour that burned the nostrils was not enough to steer inquisitiveness away. Children were heard asking a series of questions of their parents about the gigantic mammal, most of them could not be answered because their parents were also mystified by the animal.
When Stabroek News left the scene the whale was being moved very slowly and from all indications it looked like the Guyana Sea Defence Unit had a long night ahead of them.
Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn said the initial plan was to move the whale on sturdy rafts with the help of high tides and to transport it to mud flats on the West Coast where it would have been buried on the left bank of the Demerara River.
Unfortunately, the high tides were not in agreement with the minister’s vision. There was also a plan to have the animal brought over the seawall for burial but this was nixed because of the difficulties experienced with moving it. Benn said the workers would instead move the whale to a spot on the foreshore where the carcass could be cut up and transported to a safe location for burial.
Once the animal has decomposed the plan is to exhume the skeleton and use it for educational purposes.
The Minister said the entire process will be guided by an experienced marine biologist.
Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales and also the largest toothed predator. The whale also has the largest brain of any animal on Earth.