Biologists in Brazil are baffled this week after one of the world’s largest mammals has been found in an anomalous location. Wildlife experts were alerted this week to the presence of a humpback whale carcass on the island of Marajo, which sits at the mouth of the Amazon River. Locals discovered the out-of-place whale after first noticing carrion birds circling above a remote part of the island’s dense mangrove swamp. In fact, the area is so remote that wildlife officials struggled to even reach the carcass in the first place. The whale measures around 11 meters (36 feet) in length and is estimated to weigh around 10 tons (9,100 kg).
Scientists are baffled by the find. It is speculated that the whale was already dead before being washed upon the island by a massive storm surge, but that much so far remains merely an educated hunch. Even more mysterious is the fact that a humpback whale was off the coast of Brazil in the first place.
Renata Emin, leader of Brazilian conservation project Bicho D’agua Institute, told The Independent the discovery of the whale carcass is a rare and somewhat unexplained anomaly. “We’re still not sure how it landed here, but we’re guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore and the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland, into the mangrove. Along with this astonishing feat, we are baffled as to what a humpback whale is doing on the north coast of Brazil during February because this is a very unusual occurrence.”
Humpback whales are known to migrate close to the southern coasts of Brazil in warmer months, but discovering one so far north and at this time of year is quite unusual. Interestingly, marine biologists in Hawaii have been baffled by a mysterious drop in the number of whales visiting the islands in recent years, and “researchers aren't sure if there has been a reduction in the overall humpback population or if the mammals are simply going somewhere else.” Are these whale populations in the midst of a massive and mysterious migration, or might something more catastrophic be afoot?
As we continue to discover anomalous animal deaths, one thing is clear: the natural world is under stress like never before. Is humanity destined for a future alone on the Earth as so many science fiction tales have foretold? Will we be able to develop the technological means needed to live on an Earth devoid of plants and animals before it’s too late? Is such a thing even possible?
Mourn for the whales.