Stray Whale Dies at Port in Sakai, Osaka Pref.; 12-Meter-Long Whale First Found at West Japan Port on Jan. 23

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People on a fishing boat examine a whale, presumed dead, at the Port of Sakai-Semboku in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, on Monday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The dead body of a stray whale is brought to a pier in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, on Monday.

SAKAI, Osaka — A whale that wandered into a port in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, was confirmed dead, according to the Osaka prefectural government on Monday.

The prefecture has since decided to bury the dead whale in a final disposal site of industrial waste located nearby. Osaka had spent about ¥80 million to dispose the body of a dead whale into the ocean in January last year, but disposal this time will cost much less, the prefecture said.

The whale was found in Sakai-Semboku Port on Jan. 23. It is about 12-meters-long, weighs an estimated 20 tons, and is believed to be a male sperm whale.

Yasunobu Nabeshima, a former chief researcher of the prefecture’s Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, and others approached the animal on a private fishing boat and determined it was dead because its mouth was left open. It was then tied to a rope by another boat and brought to a pier about three kilometers to the northeast, where it was then fixed. According to Nabeshima, the creature likely died of starvation as there are no large squids or other creatures it could feed on in the shallow waters of the port.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The prefectural government, which manages the port, held a meeting on Monday to consider the options for disposal: burying, ocean dumping or incineration. As it is difficult to secure personnel or a place to burn the body and is costly to dump it into the ocean, the prefecture opted for burial.

The prefecture will bury the whale in a landfill close to the pier by the end of this week and plans to excavate it in one to two years’ time to turn it into a skeletal specimen.