The carcass of a dead whale was recovered overnight on Tuesday by the Italian coastguard off the coast of southern Italy. The coastguard presumes it to be one of the largest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea.
The dead whale was initially spotted by diving coastguards on Sunday near the popular tourist location of Sorrento, as they had been alerted to a smaller whale swimming in the region. The smaller mammal has since swum off into the sea.
The news was first reported by Agence France Presse.
The carcass was towed in the sea by the coastguard from Sorrento to Naples, where it will be further analysed by marine biologists to figure out why the whale died.
The Italian coastguard shared the news on its Twitter page.
Concluso il complesso rimorchio in porto a #Napoli della balenottera individuata il #17gennaio da #sub #GuardiaCostiera a #Sorrento, per rimuoverla dal mare e individuare cause decesso con necroscopia. Prosegue monitoraggio per ricerca esemplare più piccolo#TutelaAmbiente pic.twitter.com/N77OngRiEy— Guardia Costiera (@guardiacostiera) January 20, 2021
It's hard to read such news about animals dying, and until the cause of death is identified, it's hard to know exactly why this particular whale died.
It's sad to say, but the Mediterranean Sea is choked up with plastic waste, as National Geographic wrote in 2019 after a pregnant whale died with nearly 50 pounds of plastic found in her stomach. The death of hundreds of other fish and mammals in the Med could be linked to such plastic pollution, and perhaps the latest tragedy occurred for such a reason.
Unfortunately, it's something that happens more than we'd like. In countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, mass beachings of sometimes hundreds of whales and dolphins occur all too regularly, and it's still relatively unknown why this happens.
In other instances, the causes are very clear. Following a massive oil spill from a Japanese tanker in the Indian Ocean, 39 dolphins, three whales, and other fishes tragically died in Mauritius late last year. The impact of such accidents on an ecological level are catastrophic.