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Humpback Whale Found Washed Up in Amazon Jungle

Newsweek logo Newsweek 25-02-2019 Ewan Palmer

Humpback whale (file photo) © Getty Humpback whale (file photo) Biologists are trying to solve the mystery of how the carcass of a humpback whale ended up in the Amazon jungle.

The mammal was found in the Marajo island of Brazil around 50 feet from the ocean shore. A team of biologists from the Bicho D’agua Institute posted pictures of the whale, reported to be a 12-month-old calf, onto social media.

In a statement posted on Facebook along with the photos, the Bicho D’agua Institute explained the whale is “not an adult animal [and] not as big as it looks in the images.”

The Maritime Herald suggested the whale may have died after ingesting plastics from the ocean before being swept along by the waves into the jungle’s shore.

Renata Emin, a marine specialist, told Brazilian news site Journal O Liberal: “We're still not sure how it landed here, but we're guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore and the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland, into the mangrove.

“Along with this astonishing feat, we are baffled as to what a humpback whale is doing on the north coast of Brazil during February because this is a very unusual occurrence,” Emin added.

The Municipal Secretariat of Health, Sanitation and Environment [Semma] are investigating why the mammal was traveling far away from its natural habit at this time of the year.

“We believe this is a calf which may have been traveling with its mother and probably got lost or separated during the migratory cycle between the two continents,” Emin said.

Dirlene Silva, a spokesperson from Semma, told Brazilian media that they found the whale because it caught the attention of scavenger birds.

“The vultures were spotted circling above the carcass, which was found hidden in the bush some distance from the sea," Silva said, according to The Mirror. 

An autopsy to determine the whale’s cause of death is expected to take 10 days.

Stunning images of majestic whales

This is not the first time a whale has been found in the Amazon rainforest, as ABC News reports.

In 2007, a minke whale measuring more than 18 feet was found stranded on a sandbar off the Amazon River near the city of Santarem, around 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

The whale eventually managed to free itself and swim to safety.

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