A MYSTERIOUS rotting carcass that washed up on an Indonesian beach last week was once a whale, experts have said.
Fisherman Asrul Tuanakota, who found the 15m creature on the northern shore of Seram Island on Tuesday last week, thought it was a giant squid because it appeared to be covered in tentacles.
But Alexander Werth, a whale biologist at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and George Leonard, chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy, said it was almost certainly a baleen whale.
The pair said that what led to their conclusion were bones protruding from the mass of rotting flesh and what appeared to be feeding plates from the animal’s mouth used to filter food.
Seram Island is also close to a migration route used by baleen whales, UPI reports.
The ‘tentacles’ are probably made from fatty blubber which has been torn into strips by scavenging predators, most likely sharks.
Whale carcasses typically sink into the depths of the ocean after death, though under the right circumstances the body can fill with gases as it decomposes, allowing it to float.
In such cases the body can then drift ashore, as seems to have happened in Indonesia.
Researchers say warmer ocean waters could be making such events more common, as bacteria which feed on the corpse can spread more quickly.
Earlier this year, a mysterious hairy sea monster was found on a beach in the Philippines.
It baffled locals who speculated the two-ton creature was a kind of rare undiscovered dugong.
It was later identified as a whale – but had developed a strange appearance due to decomposition.