An enormous blue whale, considered the largest animal on Earth, has washed up onto a beach in southern Chile, probably after dying at sea, local authorities said Sunday.
Residents of the city of Ancud, on Chiloe island, first spotted the giant marine mammal Saturday on a Pacific ocean beach some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
Agents of the Chilean national fishing agency Sernapesca, sent to investigate, confirmed the carcass was that of "a large cetacean of the family of Balaenopteridae," they posted on the X platform formerly known as Twitter.
"We helped identify the specimen and, based on preliminary evidence, it is a blue whale," the agency added.
Sernapesca's regional director Cristian Hudson told local media that "given its condition, the whale must have died at sea some time ago and drifted in that state."
Environmental groups noted that the area's waters are heavily used by the fishing industry and maritime traffic, and they called for an investigation to determine whether the creature was the victim of a collision.
According to the non-governmental Cetacean Conservation Centre (CCC) of Chile, the family of Balaenopteridae, or rorquals, includes a variety of species, ranging from the nine-metre (30-foot) minke whale to the blue whale – which at up to 30 metres is considered the largest animal on Earth.