by Divyakant Solanki
Every morning, my routine includes getting updates and news from people over the phone and checking Twitter. That day, I saw a Tweet about the carcass of a stranded whale found on Juhu beach and confirmed the news with some other friends and colleagues.
The dead whale had been lying there for a day, and there was a large mob around the whale and more people were continuously joining. Parents were taking along their babies and young children to see the whale. People were behaving as if they were in a zoo and were taking photos and selfies with the whale in the background, not caring that they were proving to be a hindrance to the police and others who were trying to move the whale from the beach.
It was difficult to determine what the balloon-like bubble coming out of the whale was. Since it had been a while since the whale’s body had been lying on the shore, it is likely that the body was swelling up due to decomposition and was filling up with methane gas. There was a risk of it bursting and the Police was quite conscious of this risk and was asking people to maintain at a safe distance from the whale in case the carcass would burst. It could have also exploded while the workers were trying to lift it using the crane to put it on the trailer and then transport it, thus spraying people with its contents.
Juhu beach is a famous tourist spot and is crowded on most days, but on that day, the crowd had reached huge proportions and showed no signs of control. It was good that there was police presence, otherwise there is no knowing what the people would have done. They were inching close to the whale, climbing on the crane that was there to transport it and behaving in an unruly manner. At some point, the atmosphere was almost surreal.
Not only was witnessing this situation shocking visually, but it definitely hit the olfactory senses as well. The stench was quite overpowering, and I could see a few other photographers who were throwing up as they couldn’t withstand the stench and the sight. The whale’s flesh had started decomposing and I could see blood on its body as well. All of this, accompanied by the heat, was almost too much to take. One of the major challenges was the risk of infection that came with being in close proximity to a carcass that size.
The whale was transported and buried near a village called Moragaon around two kilometer from the spot. Measures have been put in place to speed up the process of decomposition.