A carcass of a whale has been washed ashore of beach in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria off the Atlantic Ocean.
Villagers in Okpo Ita, Ibeno local government area of the state, said they saw the dead whale in the morning of September 15, according to Edem Eniang, a biodiversity conservationist from the University of Uyo.
Some of the villagers had started cutting off the body parts for meat before Mr. Eniang and his team of researchers, and the local authorities got to the scene, several days after it was found.
Mr. Eniang said the carcass is about 16 metres in length.”I observed that something close to four metres was missing,” “That is a part of what was cut off by the villagers,” he told Premium Times.
A handful of tourists have been attracted to the scene since the news broke out.
Mr. Eniang explained the significance of whales in Nigeria waters.
“Whales are national heritage. In Nigeria, the living whales are our national heritage. The carcasses are our heritage as well. “Conservation International (CI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognise this region – the Akwa Ibom shoreline, all the way to Gabon, Central Africa and to Ghana- as the gulf of Guinea biodiversity hotspot.
“Now, it serves as their breeding ground. So, when they travel from the North Pole to South Pole, they hang around this our area to conduct their sexual activities from courtship play, dance, and so on, which is what we normally see in videos when they jump out of water, dive back and play. It is in this area they have their reproductive activities and raise their young ones before they are able to swim back to the North Pole.”
Mr. Eniang, who has spent about three days so far in the local community, is persuading the local authorities and the state government to preserve the carcass as a national heritage.
“In our own local environment, when something dies the people don’t know that it still has value. The carcass lying there is a very serious national monument; the skeleton must be collected, curated, and mounted for recreational, scientific and research use,” he said.