FOGGIA, Italy, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Mayors in towns near Foggia on the east coast of Italy have been asked to suggest suitable burial places for seven sperm whales that died on the beach.
The first proposal, to bury the whales in abandoned quarries, was rejected after being approved by local authorities, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Officials said sealing off the quarries to protect groundwater would be too complicated.
Stefano Pecorella, a provincial environmental counselor, said no one wants to burn the carcasses, which weigh about 13 tons each and are 30 to 45 feet long.
Four of the whales were dead when they were found late Thursday, although some investigators believe two more came ashore but were able to free themselves and get back to sea. One died Friday and the remaining two Saturday night.
The last known mass stranding in Italy was in the 19th century. Fabrizio Bulgarini of the World Wildlife Fund said the Foggia stranding was probably caused by human activity, either chemical pollution or underwater noise giving the whales misleading signals.
Scientists hope to examine the whale skeletons once the bodies decompose.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International