Last week, people in Paris, France woke to the news that a beached whale had been found on the banks of the Seine, near Notre Dame.

It was all a bit surreal, as "forensic scientists" were seen gathering around the whale, behind barriers, seemingly studying the scene.

The truth behind the bizarre spectacle is that it was an art installation, constructed overnight by the Captain Boomer art collective, from Belgium.

The giant sculpture, measuring 17 metres, even simulated the smell of a dead whale in all its gory detail.

Describing the installation process on their website, the collective wrote:

We place the statue on the beach during the night and prepare bleeding and smell.

In the morning the carcass is fenced, to keep people at a distance.

We create of circle of about seven metres around the statue.

Picture:Picture: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

Within this perimeter, the beaching is a true fact.

The actors within the fence never drop their cover.

They are scientific and official figures of a fictitious organisation, the North Sea Whale Association.

The project seeks to raise awareness about the impact humans have had on the environment, on all species, including whales. Sperm whales are currently classified as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN red list.

The organisation credits commercial whaling as a primary factor in the species' low numbers:

The cause of the population reduction in this species (commercial whaling) is reversible, understood, and is not currently in operation.

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation programme project manager, Rob Deaville, told IFL Science that during a normal year there would be between two and five sperm whale strandings in the UK alone.

HT IFLScience

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