A huge sea creature that baffled the world when it washed up on an Indonesian beach has been identified by scientists.
Locals initially thought the mystery monster was a stranded boat after it was spotted on the shores of Seram island last week.
Closer inspection revealed it to be a rotting corpse, but the 50ft creature was so badly decomposed that its species remained a puzzle.
Some suggested the ocean beast was a giant squid.
But marine biologists said they believed the carcass belonged to a baleen whale, pointing to pictures of its recognisable skeleton.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, told the Huffington Post: “Giant squid are invertebrates and there are clearly bones visible (jaw, skull, vertebrate) so I am very comfortable saying it’s some type of rorqual whale.
“Certain species of baleen whales (rorquals) have ‘ventral grooves’ which run from their chin to their belly button. It is stretchy tissue that expands when they feed.”
Edith Widder, CEO and senior scientist at the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, said images of the creature appeared to show baleen plates, which the whales use to sieve food out of water in its mouth.
George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservatory, also agreed the creature was likely to be a whale.
“Trying to identify huge ocean creatures half a [world] away from a grainy video is tough to do, but once people start sharing specific information that begins to narrow in on defining characteristics of the creature, the identity begins to come into focus,” he said.
Lab tests are reportedly being carried out in Indonesia to confirm the creature’s identity.
Locals have called on the government to help remove the tonnes of stinking flesh, first spotted by 37-year-old Asrul Tuanakota in Malaku province.
Video footage and pictures have showed the carcass turning the waters around it red with blood.