Italian coastguard recover huge whale carcass

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image copyrightEPA
image captionThere are plans for the whale's skeleton to be displayed in a museum

A whale carcass believed to be one of the largest ever found in the Mediterranean has been recovered off the coast of southern Italy.

Coastguard scuba divers located the whale off the harbour of Sorrento, near Naples, on Sunday.

They were led to the dead mammal by a young whale calf that was in distress, officials say.

It triggered a major operation to recover the 70-tonne carcass that was eventually completed on Wednesday.

The coastguard said it was "probably one of the largest" whale carcasses ever found in the region.

Shortly after the divers found the animal on Sunday, its body floated to the surface and officials decided to carry out a complex operation to move it to land.

Two vessels were involved in the operation, and the carcass was recovered late on Tuesday.

The coastguard then towed the dead whale from Sorrento to the port of Naples where it arrived on Wednesday.

image copyrightItalian coastguard handout
image captionThe operation to recover the whale carcass took three days

A post-mortem will now be carried out by marine biologists and other experts who are investigating the cause of death, officials say.

There are also plans for the whale's huge skeleton to eventually be displayed in a museum.

Meanwhile, the coastguard is monitoring for further signs of the young whale calf that led them to the carcass after it disappeared back into the sea.

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media captionThe whale was freed after a two-hour effort to cut the net

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