Members of local communities across the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, have been rushing to a beach near the communities of Ijaw-Kiri, Odioma, and Okpoama after a dead Whale was found there on Sunday 28 June 2019. The Ijaw people of the area do not traditionally hunt Whales, but do consume Whale meat from animals found dead on or near the shore. On this occasion the animal has widely been viewed as a gift from God, sent to help the people during a time of food shortages, following recent poor Fish catches in the area. The last time such a Whale was found in the area was in 2017, and the time before that in 1983.
Local people harvesting meat from a Whale which washed up in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, on Sunday 28 July 2019. Ebi Johnson/BBC.
Although local people have viewed the arrival of the Whale as an act of providence, officials from the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control have warned that there can be health risks associated with the consumption of meat obtained in such a way. A number of toxins can accumulate in the meat of Whales, including polychlorinated biphenyls (persistent organic compounds used in a variety of industrial processes), pesticides, and methyl mercury. Such toxins are of particular concern in a Whale that has died of unknown causes, as it might itself have been poisoned by a build up of such bioaccumulative toxins. The agency has warned that pregnant women and small children are at greater risk from such toxins.
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