A Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, has died after becoming stranded on the coast of North Sumatra on Saturday 11 January 2020. The Whale was first stranded on a sandbank off the coast of the village of Silo Baru on Wednesday 8 January, but was helped to refloat by local fishermen and returned to deeper water. The Whale returned on Friday 10 January and again became trapped, being rescued for the second time by a team from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency. However, it became trapped again the following day, and this time could not be rescued. The body of the carcass is currently trapped on a sand bank about 1.5 km offshore, where it is hoped that the Asahan Fishery and Maritime Affairs Agency will be able to inspect it before it is dragged into deeper water and deliberately sunk.
A Humpback Whale stranded on the coast of North Sumatra on Saturday 11 January 2020. Asahan Fishery and Maritime Affairs Agency.
Humpback Whales were nearly exterminated by commercial Whaling in the first part of the twentieth century. The species has been protected since 1946, and in recent years their population has appeared to be recovering in many areas, now being seen as being of Least Concern under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. The Whales are recovering in many parts of the globe, and are starting to appear in areas where they have not previously been recorded; this is the first time a Humpback Whale stranding has been recorded on the coast of North Sumatra.
The approximate location of the 11 January 2020 North Sumatra Humpback Whale stranding. Google Maps.
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