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Stranded Whale Dies in Yangtze Estuary
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A rare pygmy sperm whale died on Tuesday after being stranded in the Yangtze estuary near the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, despite efforts by the border police and local fishery department to save it.

Xia Genzheng, an airport worker, noticed the 300 kg animal at 10:30 AM floating near the shore and contacted the border patrol.

Officers tried to move the whale to deeper water and comfort it by dousing it with water and covering it with a wet blanket. They also called the local fishery department, which at first identified it as a porpoise.

The 2.7 meter-long whale had suffered multiple lacerations, now believed to have been made by a boat. It died at 1:30 PM and was taken to the Shanghai Donghai Aquatic Product Research Institute.

Scientists at the institute identified it as a pygmy sperm whale and discovered that it was pregnant. Zhong Junsheng, a professor at Shanghai Fisheries University, said there has never been a sighting of a pygmy sperm whale near Shanghai.

The pygmy sperm whale is a small robust whale that usually only grows three meters long. They are found throughout the temperate and tropic zones both in the open ocean and near the continental shelf. In China, they usually live in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2007)

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