Jakarta – Local authorities have found that a beached dwarf sperm whale on Lembeng Beach in Ketewel village, Gianyar, Bali, was cut in parts and had its oil extracted by local residents.
A team from the Denpasar Coastal and Marine Resources Management Center (BPSPL) found that parts of the carcass of the protected species had been removed.
"When we visited the location, we found the whale had been cut up. We seized the remains," BPSPL head Permana Yudiarso said on Friday as reported by kompas.com.
He said dwarf sperm whales were common in waters off the southern part of Bali.
When questioned by authorities, the local residents who cut up the whale claimed that they did not know the species was protected. The villagers then wrote a statement of apology and promised not to repeat their act.
"They can be legally charged if they repeat what they did to the whale," Yudi said, adding that consuming endangered and protected species was punishable by law, even if the animal was found dead.
The whale was added to a list of protected animals in a 2018 Environment and Forestry Ministry decree.
Yudi said the BPSPL would continue to inform those living in the coastal areas of Bali on the protection of marine wildlife.
He explained that the whale probably found itself in Gianyar waters after being separated from its pod.
The dwarf sperm whale usually reaches 2.7 meters in length and 272 kilograms in weight compared to the 18-meter-long, 70-metric-ton sperm whale. It has a gray coloration, square head and small jaw akin to dolphins.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not declared the conservation status of the species as no population estimate has been made. While the species is not hunted on a large scale by humans, its main threat appears to be plastic and other marine waste that the whale could ingest or become entangled in. (mfp)