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Pictures: Giant whale washes up on iconic beach in Rio de Janeiro

“I’ve never seen one so close, I would have liked to have had the chance to save it,” said one local resident.

Brazil Beached Whale Source: Silvia Izquierdo/PA Images

THE DECOMPOSING BODY of a dead humpback whale surprised swimmers when it washed up on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Ipanema beach today.

Curious onlookers approached a cordon to take photographs of the humpback, whose 14-metre-long carcass gave off a putrid stench as it lay exposed to the sun.

Brazil Beached Whale Source: Silvia Izquierdo/PA Images

Some touched its jaw bones, which had come loose and lay on the damp sand.

Rafael Carvalho, a marine mammal biologist at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, told AFP: “It is not possible to know what happened, it is in an advanced state of decomposition and that makes it difficult to know the cause of death.”

Dead Humpback Whale on the beach of Ipanema. Source: Luciano Belford/PA Images

Carvalho is part of a team that is dedicated to removing beached whales, a relatively common phenomenon in the area because Rio lies along their migration path.

Dead Humpback Whale on the beach of Ipanema. Source: Luciano Belford/PA Images

The body will be removed in a truck and then buried for sanitary reasons, he added.

“I’ve never seen one so close, I would have liked to have had the chance to save it,” mused Mauro Azevedo, a 62-year-old Rio resident.

Brazil Beached Whale Source: Silvia Izquierdo/PA Images

© AFP 2017

Read: Mystery of enormous 60-foot whale washed up dead on Donegal island

Read: Whales and dolphins have tight-knit social groups and ‘human-like’ cultures and societies

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