TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The carcass of a rare ginkgo-toothed beaked whale was discovered on the shore of Taiwan’s Green Island off the coast of Taitung County on Monday (Jan. 8).
The whale’s body was reportedly butchered for meat after its initial discovery before it was reported to local authorities, reported CNA. Taiwan’s Ocean Conservation Administration and the Taitung County government have launched an investigation to find those responsible.
The carcass was found at Chaikuo Beach on the northern shore of Green Island and reported to authorities late on Sunday, with officials investigating the site early on Monday. Portions of the body that had been cut off, presumably for sale or personal consumption, were reportedly discovered in plastic bags nearby the dead animal, per CNA.
An investigation will be carried out to try to determine the cause of death and to identify those responsible for butchering the animal. If found guilty of violating the Wildlife Conservation Act, suspects could face a fine of between NT$200,000 (US$6,400) and NT$1 million, as well as a possible prison sentence of between six months to five years, per CNA.
Gingko-toothed beaked whales are named after the shape of their lower jaw, which has a pair of teeth resembling the leaves of the ginkgo tree. The mammals range throughout the central and southern Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean, with adults typically reaching lengths between 4 and 5 meters long.
The Taiwan Coast Guard said all whale species in waters around Taiwan are protected species and must not be hunted, harmed, captured, or slaughtered. The Coast Guard urges the public to report any sightings of beached whales or whales in distress to local authorities using the 118 hotline number.