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Experts clueless on Marine deaths

The alarming number of marine deaths off the Konkan coast in the past few days,with two whales and several turtles found beached in separate incidents,could be natural or fishing-related,said experts.

Written by Aakriti Vasudeva |
April 3, 2012 2:43:58 am

The alarming number of marine deaths off the Konkan coast in the past few days,with two whales and several turtles found beached in separate incidents,could be natural or fishing-related,said experts.

A 35-foot whale identified as a Baleen whale was found beached at Priyadarshini Park at Napean Sea Road on Saturday. A similar whale was found dead at Uran on Thursday. Both were found in a highly decomposed state. There were unconfirmed reports of a third whale being beached off the Raigad coast on Monday. Meanwhile,many turtle deaths were reported over the last few days from the Raigad coast with 11 turtles found dead on the Shrivardhan coast on Saturday.

“We have got queries from Mantralay and Fisheries department and have been trying to find out the cause of the whale deaths for the past two days,but have been unable to do so. We are studying the migrational routes of the whales along the Indian coast and gathering information on it,” said Dr Vinay Deshmukh,principal scientist,Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. However,he offered a possible explanation for the whale deaths.

“They seem to be baby Baleen whales. It is possible that they lost their migrational route and got stranded at a rocky area. As the whales are heavy,there is a possibility the rocks could have cut into the body and they then drifted to various locations,” Deshmukh said. Dr Deepak Apte,a marine biologist with Bombay Natural History Society,said whales could have died due to propeller hits. “Maybe the whales were a pair and hit together by the propeller of a big ship and they drifted off to different locations,” he said.

In case of the turtle deaths,the Roha forest department said about 24 dead turtles were found in a badly decomposed state from the Murud and Shrivardhan coast in the last month. 11 turtles were found dead at Shrivardhan on Sunday. “The vet we consulted said the turtles died of natural causes,but investigations are on ,” said Deputy Conservator of Forests (Roha) Sarfaraz Khan.

Experts said turtle deaths could be due to them being caught in fishing nets or deaths during nesting.

“So many deaths cannot be due to natural causes. The turtles must have been caught in fishing nets,” said Apte. “There are turtle nesting sites south of Shrivardhan so it is possible that when the turtles came to the coast to nest,and got entangled in fishing nets,” he said.

“Sometimes when female turtles come to lay eggs on the coast,they die and the male escapes,” said SN Gajbhiye of National Institute of Oceanography,Mumbai.

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