Have you ever found something that should not be found where you are and no idea how and why it got there?
On February 27, 2019, an unprecedented and surprising event happened in the Mangrove Forest. A local Brazilian fisherman came across a dead carcass of a humpback whale while walking through the forest.
A lot of questions were raised when the humpback whale was found. How did it end up in the Mangrove forest? Where did it come from? Was it dead before it appeared in the Mangrove Forest? Why did this happen? According to Bicho D’agua, a nonprofit research group, the 26 feet long sea creature was found 50 feet from the shore of Araruna Beach, Soure. Soure sits at the mouth of the Amazon River on the islands of Marajó.
From further research and investigating, it was identified as a baby whale. The research group shared a caption under multiple photos on Instagram, “It was not an adult animal, nor as large as it seems in the pictures.” The whale was thought to be 12 months old.
The baby humpback whale likely died in four or five days before the fisherman found it. However, this event baffled many biologists, making them form their own explanations of how the marine mammal ended up there. Some thought it was being picked up by vultures in the midst of trees while others thought it was swept by a recent storm.
Sousa, an oceanographer at Bicho D’agua, provided her comment by saying “During this season, the tide normally rises twice a day to almost 13 feet and floods the mangrove forest, bringing lots of trash, including trash from ships from a lot of places in the world”
Scientists were also wondering why it was so far from its natural summer habitat. Many have guessed, including Emin, marine mammal expert, that the calf got lost from its mother or separated during the migratory cycle. Science News explained that during the Amazonian summer, the local humpback whales should have travelled over 4,000 miles to their feeding grounds in Antarctic, where it has krill filled summer oceans.
In addition, researchers tried to uncover more factors that caused the death of the poor whale by testing tissue samples. However, some details about its short life and enigmatic death may have been lost due to days of scavenging and decomposing before it was found. Maritime Herald shipping journal suggested that the death was caused by plastic pollution. Public Library of Science journal published a study in 2014 revealed that there’s a minimum of 5 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 268,940 tons, are in our oceans and the numbers are expected to grow.
Despite many NGOs such as Parley who teamed up with Adidas to create their sub-clothing line using plastic in oceans, plastic pollution is still a huge issue. We should be more conscious about our environment, but instead of always talking about it, we need to take action. If more action is taken, deaths like humpback whale calfs will not die at such an early age in areas where it should not be at the time. Something everyone can do is to have a trash clean up on decks and beaches. The result of the necropsy will be available in about 15 days and will give researchers a better idea of the cause of its death.