THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 13, 2023 at 17:55 JST
OSAKA--A whale affectionally dubbed "Yodo-chan" that was spotted in Osaka Bay near the mouth of the Yodogawa river was confirmed dead on Jan. 13.
Yasunobu Nabeshima, 69, a visiting researcher at the Osaka Museum of Natural History who is familiar with the ecosystem of Osaka Bay, observed the whale from a boat around 100 meters from it on Jan. 12.
He said the marine mammal, with its head turned to the side, did not breathe during two hours of observation.
“If the whale was alive, it would never do that. I think it is dead,” Nabeshima said in an interview that day.
Officials at Osaka city, which manages the bay, confirmed the whale's death on Jan. 13.
Four people wearing helmets approached the whale at 10:40 a.m. on the day by boat and started to observe it. They turned their camera toward the mammal and poked it with a stick.
The whale remained on its side and did not respond.
Officials now estimate that the whale measured 15 meters in length, nearly twice as long as it was previously reported to be.
The mammal was confirmed to be a sperm whale, which normally lives in deep ocean waters. It was not immediately known if it was a male or female.
Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui said on Jan. 13 that authorities will study ways to remove the carcass.
"I feel sorry for the whale, but we have to remove the carcass because it will rot if left as is," he told reporters. "We will discuss how to remove it."
Officials spotted the whale at around 8 a.m. on Jan. 9 in waters about 350 meters south of the Nakajima parking area on the Hanshin Express Bayshore Route that runs along Osaka Bay.
The whale had remained in the bay and had barely moved since it had been spotted.
The whale moved 100 meters southwest from the river mouth by the morning of Jan. 10. The following day, it barely spouted any water.
Yodo-chan attracted much attention on newscasts and social media. Many who expressed concern for the mammal's well-being came to see it from the nearby parking area on Jan. 13.
Koji Saito, 27, a company employee who resides in Takaishi, Osaka Prefecture, came with two colleagues after their night shift.
“We’ve been here for an hour but can’t see it spouting water,” he said.
Katsuo Matsumoto, 67, who lives in Osaka’s Nishi Ward, had been watching Yodo-chan through binoculars.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve seen a whale in Osaka,” he said. “I’m happy to see it, but I wish I could see it healthy.”
(This article was written by Rikako Takai and Itsuki Soeda.)
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