Whale off Johor coast could have consumed trash prior to its death

RIZALMAN HAMMIM New Straits Times 11 Feb 16;

BATU PAHAT: The Johor Fisheries Department is looking at poisoning or environmental elements as possible causes which led to the death of a whale found in the waters off Sungai Sarang Buaya here on Tuesday, Department director Munir Mohd Nawi said it is also possible that the whale had become sick after it consumed trash such as plastic bottles, which led it to swim to the shore.

“It might have fallen sick because of poison or because of the effects of environmental elements.

We might have to wait for the cause of death because the histopathology tests on the tissue of the carcass will take a few weeks to complete,” said Munir.

He was speaking to the media after inspecting the whale carcass at the Fisheries Department jetty in Minyak Beku here.

The post mortem was conducted by officers from the Fisheries Research Institute and the Veterinary Services Department.

On Monday, a four-tonne whale was found stranded in shallow waters off Pontian.

The unusual discovery sparked a buzz on social media, with locals sharing images and videos of efforts to rescue the stranded mammal.

Local fishermen, aided by the Fire and Rescue Department, spent more than three hours to steer the whale towards open water.

However, the whale was found dead a day later at the river mouth of Sungai Sarang Buaya around 4.45pm.

Sei whale suspected to have died from breathing difficulties
The Star 12 Feb 16;

A post-mortem result of the dead whale, which was found beached at Sungai Sarang Buaya on Feb 9, revealed that its respiratory tract was filled with mud.

According to Johor Fisheries Department director Munir Mohd Nawi, the mammal is believed to have been suffering from breathing difficulties when it was first rescued in Pontian a day earlier.

"We are certain that mud residue (which entered its respiratory system) had caused the mammal to lose balance to swim, leading it towards the shore.

"Based on our observation, the sea level on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia is shallow and sandy. The whale could have swallowed sand while looking for food," he said.

Histopathology tests will be conducted on the dead carcass to detect whether the mammal was suffering from any internal diseases.

Plastic garbage found in whale carcass
The Star 14 Feb 16;

JOHOR BARU: Badly-damaged internal organs as well as a parasite have been found in the carcass of a whale that was found along Sungai Sarang Buaya near Batu Pahat.

Johor Fisheries Department director Munir Mohd Nawi said an initial post mortem discovered small pieces of plastic garbage that had already decayed.

“We also found a large quantity of mud in its breathing organs,” he said, adding that this had caused breathing difficulties for the whale.

“There is also a high number of orange-coloured nematode parasite within its intestines.

“During the post mortem, we also found its internal organs to be badly damaged,” he said when contacted.

Last Monday, the 12m-long male Sei Whale weighing 15 tonnes was seen at Pantai Rambah in Pontian where it had beached itself.

A group of people managed to pull it into deeper waters.

However, the carcass of the whale was found 90 nautical miles at the river mouth of Sungai Sarang Buaya the next day.

Munir said the department would be conducting a histopathalogy (microscopic tissue examination) on the whale’s tissue to find out further details about its death.

Tissue samples would be taken to a laboratory, and the results were expected within the next two or three weeks.

“We want to know its exact cause of death as the Sei Whale is an endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” he said.

The bones of the mammal would be placed at the department’s temporary gallery as part of its educational programme for the public.

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