Another dead whale !
A whale was washed ashore at the Diveagar coast in Raigad district, the third to be found within a week near the Mumbai coastline. Recently, two dead humpback whales were washed ashore, one on the Uran coast and another at the shoreline near Priyadarshini Park, Mumbai. The whale at Diveagar coast, around 120 km from Alibaug in Raigad district, was spotted by locals on Wednesday. The sarpanch of Diveagar, Uday Bapat said that along with the whale, 11 dead turtles were also found on Diveagar beach in the last five to six days. Marine biologists expressed concern over the number of dead whales surfacing in and around Mumbai last week. D Stalin, an environmentalist from the NGO Vanashakti, said, “It is highly unusual to find three dead whales of the same sub-species in and around the Mumbai coast. The fisheries and state forest departments must find out the cause behind these humpback whale deaths.’’ While Stalin expressed concern that the whales were perhaps injured by propellers of big barges, or fell victims to toxic pollution in the sea, most marine experts strongly supported the propeller injury theory. Deputy conservator of Bombay Natural History Society, Deepak Apte, said, “It is very likely that the same family of humpback whales comprising female adults and their calves were fatally injured by the rotating propellers of a barge or a ship. Since whales have to come to the sea surface to breathe in oxygen, they could have been hurt by a passing ship. In the last 30 years, I personally have not come across so many whale deaths in the Mumbai region at the same time. So these three incidents definitely need to be studied.’’ Almost 20 types of whales are found in the Arabian Sea. Marine biologist and chief conservator of forests (mangroves) N Vasudevan, said there are two basic types of whales – toothed and baleen. Baleen whales have a specialised filter in their mouths that blocks out dirt and other sea trash while these mammals drink the water. Humpback whales, which were washed ashore in and around Mumbai coast, belong to the baleen whale category. Among other whales include the sperm whale, blue whale, pilot whale, pygmy whale, melon-headed whale and killer whale. Humpback whales found in the Arabian sea are not known to migrate and are an exception to other species which migrate from tropical waters (to breed) to polar regions (to feed). Experts said only a post mortem of the animals could reveal the exact cause of death.