Japan blue whale: Rare dead calf washed ashore on beach

Media caption,
A blue whale has washed up dead on a beach in Japan - the first time one has been sighted there

A dead blue whale calf has been found washed ashore in Japan - the first time that the rare species has been seen in the country, experts say.

The carcass was discovered on Sunday at a beach in Kamakura, a city 70km (43 miles) south of Tokyo, on Japan's southern coast.

Blue whales are the largest of all animals. They can grow to 30m (98ft) in length and weigh up to 170 tons.

The cause of the whale calf's death is not yet known.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The whale will be dissected by experts to find out more about how it got there

Its remains are to be studied by experts and tents have been put up on the Kamakura beach to allow a dissection to take place.

The male calf measured 10.52m and was born this year, an expert from the National Museum of Nature and Science told Japanese media.

Commercial whaling over many years brought blue whales close to the point of extinction.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says the animal is still endangered as a result of climate change and ship strikes.

During the summer months, the mammals are often found near Antarctica.

Japan still has a whaling fleet but insists its hunting programme is for scientific purposes.

In May, Japanese hunters caught and killed 122 pregnant minke whales as part of its Antarctic summer "field survey".

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