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A stray whale’s death in a Japanese bay raises questions about the cause and the cost of disposal.

In Osaka Bay, a massive whale, equivalent in size to a train car, tragically met its demise after straying into the area. Now, there’s a growing concern about the recurring instances of stranded whales and how authorities are managing these situations.

The whale, suspected to be a male sperm whale measuring around 12 meters (39 feet) long and weighing approximately 20 tons, was initially spotted in mid-January at Sakai Semboku Port. Despite efforts to guide it back to its natural habitat, it continued to roam around Osaka Bay until a boat captain reported its lifeless body to the coast guard.

After confirmation of its death, likely due to starvation, prefectural officials and experts conducted an autopsy to determine the cause. Samples were collected for further analysis. Subsequently, a decision was made to bury the whale at a designated section of an industrial waste disposal complex. This approach aims to allow the carcass to decompose naturally, eventually becoming a skeletal specimen for the local natural museum.

Whale strandings are not uncommon in Japan, with over 300 reported annually. While experts point to factors like tidal fluctuations, diseases, and climate change as potential causes, definitive reasons remain elusive.

In Osaka’s case, the bay’s geography, characterized by narrow passages, may contribute to whales becoming stranded. Learning from past experiences, authorities are taking proactive measures to address these situations more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Last year’s incident involving another stranded whale, Yodo-chan, shed light on the significant financial burden associated with managing such cases. This time, officials aim to handle the situation more prudently, reassuring the public about the judicious use of resources in addressing these unfortunate events.

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