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20-feet whale stranded near Muara
By MK Anwar

12th May 2003

Brunei Bulletin

Bandar Seri Begawan - It was a surprise call fish farm owner Haji Zairial Abidin bin Penghulu Hail Ibrahim least expected yesterday morning.

When one his workers in the fish farm near Pulau Pelumpong in Muara shouted excitedly "whale, whale" at the other end of the line, he quickly rushed to the site located near his fish farm, indeed what he saw was something out of the ordinary.

A 20-foot long whale was stuck near one of his fishing structures or `lintau'.

When the Bulletin reached the scene the whale was spouting air from its two blowholes, creating amidst of air a metre high every time it exhaled air Officers from the Fisheries Department and Museum Department soon arrived. The whale, estimated to weigh around five tonnes was identified as a Minke Whale, a species classified as "Balaenoptera acutorostrata". With its triangular, narrow and pointed snout, this type of whale is normally found in the tropic, moderate and polar waters.

Workers nearby said that they heard loud splashing sound late Saturday night, They were not sure what it was until they went to the fishing structure where the whale was found at about 6 am in the morning.

Although this species of whale is mainly oceanic, it will come near to the coast especially when it follows its food source. The whale found yesterday was probably trying to feed on some of the small fish caught inside the `lintaiu' and got stuck in the process. The tide was low yesterday morning and this probably made it harder for it to swim back.

The officers from the Fisheries and Museum Department said that it probably got stranded due to complication with its navigating sensors. Whales are known to beach themselves for unknown reason.

The Minke whale was badly injured with deep scratches all over its dark grey body. Although some of the people tried to push it back into the deep, it failed to respond as it was weak and tired. Its tail was also partly severed and officials said it must have happened as the whale struggled to free itself from the structure.

However by yesterday afternoon, at the grew higher some of the people there managed to push it back into the deep.

It was still seen near the deep are of the Brunei bay by late afternoon. On its way it reportedly damaged a fish farm located nearby.

The Minke whale will have problem swimming properly considering its tail was badly injured.

Although it is the third a whale of this type was found in Brunei, it is the first time ever that it has been found alive. This created more interest among the Fisheries and Museum Department officials.

The Minke is protected by international law since 1986. It is estimated that a total population of this species of whale worldwide is over 1 million.

It can grow up to 25 to 30 feet long and can weigh up to 10 tonnes. The female is larger than the male. --