VALIANT EFFORTS: Fisheries, visitors try to keep it wet to guide it back to sea again
KOTA KINABALU: RESCUERS failed in their desperate efforts to revive a 17-metre-long whale which was stranded on the Kuala Sungai Sitompok beach in Kuala Penyu, located 135km from here, yesterday.
Despite repeated attempts to pull it back into the deep sea, the mammal resisted by heading towards the shore.
It was earlier spotted in shallow waters at 9am by Pulau Tiga park rangers who immediately alerted the Sabah Fisheries Department.
Kuala Penyu fisheries officer Julin Bagang said a team of 10 officers mounted many attempts to steer the whale to the open sea with the help of fishermen but without success.
"We used two boats to guide it out to the sea but the whale submerged and resurfaced before swimming to the beach.
"We believe it is a Baleen whale but don't know why or what caused it to come here."
Baleen whales can be found in all oceans, from polar seas to temperate and tropical zones, travelling thousands of kilometres. Some baleen whales stay near shore.
With low tide around 5pm, the whale, which appeared to have sustained cuts on its tail, was beached about 20 metres from the waterline. Attempt to use ropes to guide it back to the sea failed.
The fisheries officers had hoped to keep it alive until high tide at midnight to push it back into the water.
The Fire and Rescue Department team pumped seawater over the whale to keep it submerged in the water.
"It's the best we could do to keep it alive," said Julin.
The mammal died at 8pm and the authorities are now thinking how to dispose of the 10-tonne carcass.
News of the beached whale brought hundreds of people to the beach. The fisheries officers roped them in to help with the process of pouring seawater over the whale.
Richard Enggoh, 58, and Liew Moi, 52, who were among the volunteers, went back and forth fetching water from the sea with the use of empty paint cans.
"We felt sorry for it as it looked like it is injured. We don't know what will happen next but we will try to help as long as we can."