Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guess What This Is??

Walking the dogs on Pebble Beach at Tiga Temurun, my nose caught an awful stench which had led me closer to the sea. As I got closer, this was sitting on the pebbles.

That carcass was about a meter in length. It was a huge fish and the head was missing. What made us curious was how the frontal part was eaten up revealing the rib cage. Correct me if I am wrong here, a fish family would not have a rib cage. A very high possibly that this carcass belonged to some marine mammal.

We turned the carcass over and whooosh! lots of maggots!

We took a closer look and it seemed to have a pair of flipper. The ends of the decapitated carcass looked mangled. 

The owners of Tiga Cafe decided to have the carcass burn due to the stench that reached the restaurant when the wind blew to that direction. We used all sorts of rubbish and debris as fuel. While I was searching for suitable rubbish in the bush, my nose detected the stench again. This time I found the missing part. 

Its skull!!

Please be aware that the long thing stuck to it was a stick we used to pick the skull up.

View of skull from underside

Lateral view of the skull

It was a strange looking skull. We hope that this skull actually belonged to the carcass and not something else... like a baby...??? ... of course not..

This marine mammal was definitely not a dolphin. It may be a porpoise, manatee or dugong. I wonder what killed it. Whatever it was, do Rest In Peace, my friend.


  1. so interesting. u shld have got someone to clean off the rotting flesh and put the bones of the head and body together to see what creature it was. one meter is quite a large creature.


  2. waaaa puteri duyung kerdil..

  3. Hi WChinner,

    That's a really grisly and ominous find! This poor creature could have been decapitated by speeding boats or probably had by scavengers (if it's separated long after death).

    Anyway, this particular carcass might be that of the porpoises which is found around Penang and also recorded in waters further North. (not sure if Langkawi has or not) They were frequently reported beached up and dead along Penang's shores.
    See: (

    Or it could be a dugong as there is a projection below the skull as seen from the photo captioned "View of skull from underside" that resemble one of the dugong's incisor (tusk). If this is the case, what happened to the other incisor is anyone's guess and probably a strong evidence of the creature being hit, broken away and killed by speed boats. One question, did you manage to see any fracture/injury scars on it's skull or body?

    One way or another, I hope the bones are still not too burnt out as this particular carcass might actually shed light to the enigmatic marine mammals in this part of the world. Perhaps you might be interested to contact the fisheries department (they frequently collect cetacean carcasses for research)?

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi TC;
    At a glance in the beginning, i thought it was a giant trevally.
    The 3 of us may do the job. The cafe owner, Nas, the chef, can easily slice and separate the decomposed flesh and bones. Jeff, the other cafe owner, is the cashier aka accountant, can make accounts on the bones. While i can be the photographer. However, what put all of us off was that stinking smell. The stench went into my nostril, down into my throat and it lingered on for a few minutes. I almost puked twice and it was horrible (I was a Wallace Wimple at that moment, I know).

    Hi Kulark;
    hmmm... apa tu?

    Hi JK;
    The most noticeable sign was the dark coloured bruised like skin. It looked like slightly toasted or "burnt". I wondered why. We looked at the skull for awhile, turning it at all angles. Because of that stench (we were holding our breath while inspecting), we did not look closely. Now that you mentioned about the fracture, do zoom into the first skull picture labelled "Its skull!" and you will find a short line in the mid section of the forehead (between the eye sockets).

    I suspect some animals (maybe wild dogs) may had gnawed its head away.

    err... I am not too sure of its condition after the burning. I will ask the owners of they had returned to check it... or maybe washed away at high tide. Too late now, sorry... maybe next time we will contact these fisheries department (in which i doubt they will actually come).

    I will pass these photos to a marine biologist specially in studying cetaceans. Let's see what she says.

    Thank you, JK for your tips.

  5. If you want to make comparison with finless porpoise, i have a frozen dead one stored at kilim chiller. Last time we wanted to pass to UKM or UM biologist then I'm not sure either they took it or not. Will check back and see either it still there or not. iF it still there jom.. CSI wannabe here. heheh... i can get instruction on what to observe and documented from U.M biologist..


  6. Hi Kulark;
    Hope it still there... jom... but got bad stinking smell or not? I just want to be mentally prepared for that.


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