A pod of Humpback Dolphins, usually spotted along the coast of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, was spotted between near the Bandra-Worli sea link on Sunday.
The spotting of dolphins near the Mumbai coast has recently increased. Last year, a Humpback dolphin was spotted between the Versova and Madh Jetty on Mumbai’s west coast. Earlier this month, a pod of Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins was spotted by fishermen near Sassoon Docks.
These dolphins usually live in shallow, coastal waters. In May last year, the carcass of a Humpback Dolphin had washed ashore Versova Beach. It was too decomposed for a post-mortem and was buried in the sand. In 2017, August, a decomposed carcass of a Humpback dolphin had washed ashore at the Carter Road Promenade in Bandra.
Habitat preference exposes dolphins to polluted waters
The Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin is known to occur within the Indian Ocean from South Africa to India. The habitat preference of the dolphins for shallow waters places them in some of the world’s most intensively utilised, fished, shipped, modified and polluted waters, as per the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It currently categorises the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin as Endangered.
Dolphins are endangered cetacean species, protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forests, state mangrove cell, who is also a marine biologist, said that this isn’t a rare sighting, “There are several reports of pods of the species between Gateway of India and Elephanta Caves towards Thane creek end.”
The koli community who fish in the waters around Madh Jetty and Versova, informed that they have repeatedly spotted the Humpback dolphin. The species are also among the most adaptive ones. There have been reports of dolphin sightings on the west coast of Mumbai between Girgaum and Nariman Point, Marine lines too. Last year, pods of the dolphins was spotted very near the coast at Haji Ali.
Vinay Deshmukh, retired scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, said, “The dolphin sightings are not abnormal. They can be seen in coastal and clean water. However, dolphins are hardly spotted near Mumbai coast as there is silt in the water. During winters, the wind is from land to sea (northerly winds), which carry silt away from the shore and that is possibly the reason that the dolphins were spotted near the shore.”