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PHUKET: An autopsy on a Cuvier’s beaked whale that was found dead on a beach south of Phuket yesterday morning revealed that the mammal had died of a disease that afflicted its lungs and kidneys.

A marine officer on a routine survey of the Koh Li Bong coastline in Trang Province found the whale’s body on the beach at about 8am, said Director of Marine and Coastal Resources Conservation Center 6 Prajuab Mokaratana.

“After we were notified of the body, we asked Phuket’s Marine Resource Research and Development Institute to send a team to examine it,” said Mr Prajuab.

An officer from the institute carried out a beach autopsy on the 500-kilogram Cuvier’s beaked whale, the deepest diving mammal in the world, and determined that it had succumbed to disease before washing up on the shore, said Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, head of the Marine Endangered Species Unit at the Phuket Marine Biological Center.

“The whale died from a virus that attacked its lungs and kidneys. We are now investigating to find out what the specific virus was.”

The remains were to be transferred to the institute’s location in Phuket today, Mr Kongkiat confirmed.

The spotted three-meter-long whale had first been seen – and rescued – the previous day, after fishermen saw it struggling near a rocky outcrop off the island’s coast, said Mr Prajuab.

“Residents notified authorities after they found the fatigued whale struggling to get over the surf and into deeper waters,” he said.

“Marine rescue officers and fishermen worked for four hours to get the whale out to sea.”

— Woranut Pechdee