Uruguayan authorities reported Wednesday the discovery of a dead 15-meter whale on the River Plate beach of Colonia, believed to be the first such discovery in the past 100 years.
The mammal, found Tuesday, appears to have been dead for days and is believed to have succumbed to heavy rains.
The owner of the Kerayvoty reserve, Julio Medina, said that help would be sought from the National Directorate of Aquatic Resources (Dinara). He also noted that the animal appeared to be a blue whale.
Some fishermen alerted Medina to the animal's appearance. Dinara is likely to apply a protocol implemented on other occasions when specimens of this size appear: they are taken to a special sanitary landfill.
Kerayvoty personnel determined that the animal was 15.5 meters long and 3.4 meters wide. Based on the measurements, the folds, and the color of the baleen, we will be able to determine the species, Kerayvoty veterinarian Martín Lima told La Diaria. The expert also pointed out that the animal has been dead for at least 10 days, which is why it is in a rather ugly state and has no superficial wounds.
Dinara indicated that in principle the whale's death was not related to the outbreak of avian flu in the region, which has affected sea lions in recent weeks. Dinara Director Jaime Coronel said there was no link between the whale's death and avian flu.
A necropsy will be performed on the whale next Friday to determine the cause of death and rule out bird flu. The last time a blue whale was found dead in Uruguay was 100 years ago.
The whale is currently on the beach, still awaiting Friday's studies, while arrangements for its burial are being made between Dinara and the City of Colonia.