First sighting
Even in death, the gigantic 40-foot Bryde's whale cut a majestic figure on Juhu beach, where it had washed ashore on Thursday night.

Also read: 40-foot whale washes ashore on Juhu beach

Large crowds gathered to look at and photograph the 40-ft creature that was identified as a male Bryde’s whale and weighed nearly 20 tonnes. Pics/Swarali Purohit
Large crowds gathered to look at and photograph the 40-ft creature that was identified as a male Bryde’s whale and weighed nearly 20 tonnes. Pics/Swarali Purohit

Yesterday, mid-day had reported how the whale’s appearance drew curious looks from passers-by, who thought the ‘large, white halo’ might be an inflated plastic bag, or a large balloon that had fallen into the sea. It was when the waves carried the body to the shore that people were stunned to see that it was a dead whale.

Disaster tourism
All the way from Thursday night to the time the whale was lifted onto a truck and taken away, crowds gathered to get a closer look of the giant creature and take a few snapshots to boot.

Word spread in no time at all, and the five lifeguards from Juhu Beach Lifeguard Association spent the entire night managing the crowds that gathered to catch a glimpse of the mammoth creature, and perhaps click a selfie with it.

The public excitement was reminiscent of the time when 25-year-old container ship MV Wisdom was stranded at the same beach in 2011, or like the 2003 episode when another whale had washed ashore there.

Mammoth operation
A massive operation was put in place to lift the whale – weighing nearly 20 tonnes – and move it to another spot on the beach, where it was buried.

About 30-40 officials and volunteers from the Juhu Life Guard Association, the Coast Guard and the Forest and Fisheries department were deployed and a helicopter kept watch from above as two cranes were pressed into service to lift and move the giant carcass.

Species confirmed
Wildlife biologist Supriya Jhunjhunwala inspected the carcass and identified it as a Bryde’s whale (pronounced ‘broo-dess’) and said it was a moderately sized male specimen; the species can grow up to 50 feet and live 50-70 years.

Instead of teeth, the whale has baleen — a filter-feeder system inside the mouth that looks like teeth on a comb
Instead of teeth, the whale has baleen — a filter-feeder system inside the mouth that looks like teeth on a comb

She added that this species fell under the category of baleen whales, as they have baleen instead of teeth. Baleen are a sort of filter-feeder system inside the mouth of the whales, which takes in water through the mouth and then pushes it back out through the baleen, which trap smallest marine life like plankton, shrimp and crustaceans (main food source for whales).