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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (January 28, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---It was first spotted last month, just before Christmas, in the Bay of Prony (south of New Caledonia's main island), but by last weekend, the blue whale was reported to be living its very last hours. It was surrounded by sharks, preparing to feast on the giant mammal, local media reported.

The whale, which belongs to one of the largest species (it can reach close to thirty meters or almost 100 feet in length), was welcomed by an excited New Caledonia. Never had anything that big come so close to shore.

But it soon became apparent that the mammal was extremely weak and that it was probably a young adult who had lost its way.

Scientists, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's marine biologist Eric Clua and the University of New Caledonia's Professor Claude Chauvet, regularly monitored the blue whale’s activities.

They are now convinced that the whale, with more and more sharks closing in on it, is living its last hours.

"In the early hours of Sunday, one villager from Prony heard some noise in the water. It was probably the whale being attacked," Clua said.

He did a daytime check on the animal, only to find multiple bites, especially near its throat and on the tail.

"She was bleeding profusely. She was about a hundred meters (330 feet) from the beach. She was still breathing while staying at the surface, but she was hardly moving any longer."

Some say the mammal now might try to beach itself and die.

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