In Brief

How did a humpback whale end up in the Amazon rainforest?

Ten-ton marine mammal was found in wooded area about 50ft from ocean shore

Animal experts are struggling to explain the discovery of a humpback whale carcass in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

The 36ft-long marine mammal was found in jungle undergrowth near a beach on the island of Marajo, which sits at the mouth of the Amazon River, The Independent reports.

Scientists believe the whale, thought to be 12-month-old calf, had been swept ashore by a recent storm, but are puzzled as to how it ended up around 50ft from the ocean shore, Science Alert adds.

Experts are also at a loss as to why the ten-ton creature was so far from its natural summer habitat. During the Amazonian summer, when freshwater rivers flood, local humpback whales “should have already travelled over 6,000km south (4,000 miles), to their feeding grounds in Antarctica’s krill-filled summer oceans”, the science news site says.

Renata Emin, a marine mammal expert with the local Bicho d’Agua conservation group, told Brazilian media: “We believe this is a calf which may have been travelling with its mother and probably got lost or separated during the migratory cycle.

“We’re still not sure how it landed here, but we’re guessing that the creature was floating close to the shore and the tide, which has been pretty considerable over the past few days, picked it up and threw it inland, into the mangrove.”

In November 2007, a minke whale “stranded itself on an Amazon sandbank nearly 1,000 miles inland of the Atlantic Ocean”, before local rescuers freed it, notes Vice’s Motherboard.

Scientists are testing tissue samples from the newly discovered whale in a bid to determine how it died, but “some details regarding its short life and mysterious death may have been lost to several days of decomposition and scavenging” by birds and other wild creatures, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The Maritime Herald shipping journal suggests the calf may have died after swallowing marine plastics, before its body washed up on shore.

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