Clueless about the reason behind dolphins washing up dead on the city’s shores, the Thane forest department has written to the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, and the state fisheries department to investigate the deaths.
The forest department had got the carcasses of three humped back dolphins, a protected species, on April 21, 27 and May 6 at Marine Drive, Andheri and Versova beaches. While the forest department has received only three corpses from the civic body, fishermen allege that more than 32 dolphins have washed ashore from Worli to Dahanu in the past two months.
According to the recent letter, the forest department has asked the NIO to specifically investigate and ascertain if these deaths are accidental or due to some virus in the Arabian sea. “We want to know why such incidences are happening on Mumbai shores,” the letter stated. “The post mortem reports from the Bombay Veterinary College have been inconclusive, so we need more specialised agencies to investigate the matter,” said KP Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Thane territorial.
Interestingly, the forest department has also written to the Mumbai police commissioner to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, the fishing community allege that deaths are due to the ‘Seismic blast technology’ allegedly used by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) to explore oil deposits inside the sea bed off Mumbai coast. “The technology sends sound waves that damage the hearing sense of these animals, who navigate and find each other through sound waves,” said Damodar Tandel, president of the Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti. Blaming the same technology for the “drastic” reduction in fish catch this year, the organisation has demanded a compensation of Rs 500 crore from ONGC.
ONGC, however, maintains that the company is conducting seismic tests that are conducted worldwide for offshore oil exploration campaign. “At all ONGC units, we use safe exploration practices which meet global standards,” said Pallab Bhattacharya, corporate communications at ONGC, not commenting on the specific allegations of the fishing community.