Jakarta. A sperm whale that became stranded near Situbondo in East Java was freed and safely returned to the sea in a joint rescue operation on Saturday (03/03), the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said in a statement.
Local fishermen informed the authorities about the stranding early on Friday morning, which contributed to a quick response to help the 17-meter-long mammal safely return to the sea, said Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, director general of sea management at the ministry.
Rescuers from East Java and Bali used four boats, three jet skis, divers and volunteers to tow the whale back to deeper waters.
The whale is believed to have become stranded in shallow waters after it became separated from its pod during migration. The whales pass through the waters near Situbondo during their annual migration, between November and March.
When the whale reached the deep sea, it started swimming in an easterly direction and authorities believe it was in good health, based on the frequency at which it exhaled air from its blowhole and its swimming style.
Four sperm whales died in November last year when a group of 10 stranded in Aceh. The remainder were successfully returned to deeper water.
The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is a protected species under a 1999 Indonesian government regulation.
According to the ministry, the presence of whales is an indicator of a healthy marine environment.