From: Reuters
Published November 20, 2007 07:47 PM

Minke whale dies in Brazil's Amazon forest

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A 12-ton whale was found dead in the heart of Brazil's Amazon region, after swimming aimlessly along numerous tributaries, a government biologist said on Tuesday.

The 18-foot (5.5-metre) minke whale was first seen last week on the Tapajos River, a tributary of the Amazon. It swam 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, was stranded on sandbanks several times, and freed once by biologists and volunteer rescue workers.

Environmentalists and volunteers had hoped to transport the whale back to sea by ship but local residents spotted its carcass early on Tuesday and alerted authorities.

The dead whale was found two hours by boat from the city of Santarem, Fabia Luna, a biologist working for a government environmental agency told Reuters by telephone.

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"We won't know for sure what caused its death until we get back the results from the lab," said Luna, who aided in an autopsy of the whale.

Experts said the whale probably became disoriented among the many river branches that form the broader Amazon.

(Reporting by Raymond Colitt, editing by Patricia Zengerle)

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