Days after a blue whale washed ashore at Revdanda beach near Alibaug and died after being stranded for 10 hours, an 8-foot long Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin got stuck in shallow waters of Amba river at Nagothane around 10 am Wednesday.
Surfacing every 30 seconds to breath, forest officials said, the dolphin had travelled almost 40 km from the sea and 20 km from deep waters. According to local foresters, a pod of four dolphins has come to the spot 20 km away.
“Dolphins are social animals and it is highly likely that the stranded dolphin has sent out distress signals and these dolphins have come to save it. This is also the reason why a lot of dolphins and whales get stranded in groups after the first one gets stranded,” said N Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangrove Cell.
The 200-kg dolphin in the river has turned the narrow road off Nagothane main road into a tourist spot of sorts, with state transport buses being forced to stop there on public demand. With each surfacing of the dolphin, the crowd cheered and around 30 personnel from the local police and the traffic police had to be brought in for crowd control.
Forest officials said they needed to rid the area of “disturbances” for rescue operations. “The dolphin has displayed peculiar behaviour by not trying to get out of the shallow water during high tide at noon. It is definitely under stress because of the whistles, loud cheers,” said a forest official.
Officials are contemplating rescuing the dolphin by “pushing it”, by creating a ‘raft’ made by tying three boats together, and troubling the waters to goad the dolphin from going towards deeper waters.
“We are trying to convince the local fishermen to ready their boats and tie two protruding bamboos to avoid the dolphin from going in the opposite direction. It’s full moon and starting the operation at night when there won’t be a crowd would be ideal,” said Vasudevan, who was overseeing the operation.
While the dolphin can survive for 2-3 days at the spot, delaying the operation would endanger its life.