A beached blue whale found in Chile has been the subject of social media outrage after it was pictured with a message carved into its side.
The animal, more than 20 meters (66 feet) long, was found washed up on a beach in Punta Delgada. A tweet posted online then showed a carving on the side of the animal, apparently scrawled by people who found the dead whale.
The message carved on the animal with a stone said: “Ana, I love you”. Two people were then also pictured posing on top of the animal.
“I was shocked to see this situation of lack of control,” Gabriela Garrido, a researcher at the Natural History Museum of Río Seco, told Chilean newspaper La Nación. “I had a lot of anger, a lot of impotence.”
Garrido was one of the first scientists to arrive at the site, and she said the animal was surrounded by about 50 people. Some were climbing on top of it, while others were kicking it.
It’s not clear how it died, although a lack of bruises suggests it may have died of starvation. Biological samples have been taken from the animal to determine the cause of death.
The animal is thought to have been quite young, about two years old, and possibly heralded from the South Atlantic. Beached whales are sadly not all that uncommon, but it’s never nice to see one treated in this way – dead or alive.
The animal has now been removed by the Chilean authorities.