Disposal of a 12 meter long, 15 ton Sperm Whale carcass has proven to be too large a task for the municipality of El Houaria to handle. The leviathan’s massive body has been lying on the beach of Sidi Daoud for the past five days.
The head of the El Houaria Fishing Association, Moncef Miladi, complained that the carcass, through the process of decomposition, has been releasing blood onto the beach. “None of the authorities have come to clean the sea,” said Miladi.
According to Miladi, it is unusual for a whale to wash up on the Tunisian shore. Given that sperm whales typically inhabit deeper waters, it is likely that the whale lost it’s way on a migration route.
An official at the municipality of El Houaria who requested to remain unnamed, said that the disposal of the whale will require a coordinated effort between multiple government agencies. “We called our civil protection agency and the unit of processing management for the Governorate of Nabeul, and the two agencies are working on a plan now to either move the carcass or bury it in the ground somewhere near the coast,” he said.
While the cause of death of the whale has not been confirmed, marine pollution often impacts the ability for whales to hear, leading them dangerously off course from their regular migration routes. There is also a possibility that the whale suffered from a disease that weakened it, according to the Tunisian National Institute for Marine Science and Technology.
Sperm whales can grow up to 20 meters long, and are often found swimming in waters between 2500 and 5000 meters deep where they feed off different species of squid.