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A Stranded Whale in Mumbai

by Divyakant Solanki

Indian officials carry the decomposed body of a stranded whale with the help of cranes, found near the Juhu beach of Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. According to reports, around 40-feet long body of dead Whale was found near the Juhu beach, for safety measures officials removed it with the help of crane. epa/Divyakant Solanki

Indian officials carry the decomposed body of a stranded whale found near Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

Every morning, my routine includes getting updates and news from people over the phone and checking Twitter. That day, I saw a Tweet about the carcass of a stranded whale found on Juhu beach and confirmed the news with some other friends and colleagues.

People stand around the decomposed body of a stranded whale found near the Juhu beach of Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. According to reports, around 40-feet long body of dead Whale was found near the Juhu beach, for safety measures officials removed it with the help of crane. epa/Divyakant Solanki

People stand around the decomposed body of a stranded whale found near Juhu beach  in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

The dead whale had been lying there for a day, and there was a large mob around the whale and more people were continuously joining. Parents were taking along their babies and young children to see the whale. People were behaving as if they were in a zoo and were taking photos and selfies with the whale in the background, not caring that they were proving to be a hindrance to the police and others who were trying to move the whale from the beach.

People stand around the decomposed body of Whale found near the Juhu beach of Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. According to reports, around 40-feet long body of dead Whale was found near the Juhu beach, for safety measures officials removed it with the help of crane. epa/Divyakant Solanki

People stand around the body of Whale found near the Juhu beach of Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. According to reports, a 40-feet long body of a dead Whale was found near the Juhu beach. For safety reason, officials removed it with the help of a crane. epa/Divyakant Solanki

It was difficult to determine what the balloon-like bubble coming out of the whale was. Since it had been a while since the whale’s body had been lying on the shore, it is likely that the body was swelling up due to decomposition and was filling up with methane gas. There was a risk of it bursting and the Police was quite conscious of this risk and was asking people to maintain at a safe distance from the whale in case the carcass would burst. It could have also exploded while the workers were trying to lift it using the crane to put it on the trailer and then transport it, thus spraying people with its contents.

People stand around the decomposed body of a stranded whale found near Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

People stand around the body of a stranded whale found near Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

Juhu beach is a famous tourist spot and is crowded on most days, but on that day, the crowd had reached huge proportions and showed no signs of control. It was good that there was police presence, otherwise there is no knowing what the people would have done. They were inching close to the whale, climbing on the crane that was there to transport it and behaving in an unruly manner. At some point, the atmosphere was almost surreal.

epa05162610 People cover their faces as they watch a decomposing carcass of a stranded whale near Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

epa05162610 People cover their faces as they watch a decomposing carcass of a stranded whale near Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

Not only was witnessing this situation shocking visually, but it definitely hit the olfactory senses as well. The stench was quite overpowering, and I could see a few other photographers who were throwing up as they couldn’t withstand the stench and the sight. The whale’s flesh had started decomposing and I could see blood on its body as well. All of this, accompanied by the heat, was almost too much to take. One of the major challenges was the risk of infection that came with being in close proximity to a carcass that size.

Indian officials carries the decomposed body of Whale with the help of cranes, found near the Juhu beach of Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. According to reports, around 40-feet long body of dead Whale was found near the Juhu beach, for safety measures officials removed it with the help of crane. epa/Divyakant Solanki

Indian officials transport the decomposed body of a stranded whale with the help of cranes near Juhu beach at the Arabian Sea shore in Mumbai, India, 29 January 2016. epa/Divyakant Solanki

The whale was transported and buried near a village called Moragaon around two kilometer from the spot. Measures have been put in place to speed up the process of decomposition.

 

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