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Fishermen blame oil rigs for whale death

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Fishermen bring in their biggest haul ever: a dead whale stranded offshore. Photo: Sipse
Fishermen bring in their biggest haul ever: a dead whale stranded offshore. Photo: Sipse

Progreso, Yucatán —At 9 a.m. today, a team of UADY biologists and marine biology students will attempt to determine what killed the fin whale found stranded off the coast yesterday.

Fishermen, some of whom hauled the whale ashore, have their own theory.

They speculate it was killed by explosions performed by offshore oil exploration vessels, which are also killing grouper and other fish. The whale, which weighed up to 10 tons, was discovered around 8 a.m. Sunday.

First reported to be a humpback whale, UADY scientist Dr. Raul Diaz Gamboa, examined the mammal and said that it is a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus).

The whale was found drifting by fishing crews, which suspended their mission to bring the whale ashore, west of the pier. Two boats took a half an hour to haul the carcass to the beach.

They arrived at 9:30 a.m. but it was a struggle to haul the massive creature to the sand — heavy machinery was finally brought in to help, and the whale was on dry land by 4 p.m. The Navy cordoned off the area, which had drawn interest by passersby and reporters.

Fishermen shared their theory with Diario de Yucatán: that oil exploration explosions damaged the ears of the whale, disorienting it and sending it off course to its eventual demise.

An endangered species, the fin whale is the second-largest whale species, behind the blue whale. It is also known as a finback whale, or razorback, and they commonly inhabit the Gulf of Mexico.

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