The state-run Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation has set up a rescue centre for stranded or beached marine animals at Airoli in Navi Mumbai.
To be inaugurated on July 26, also observed as the International Day for Conservation of Mangroves, the response unit at Airoli’s Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre is equipped with one 1,000 litre tank, five 500 litre water tanks, an operation table, medicines and medical equipment, besides visiting veterinarians. The facility will initially cater to smaller marine animals like sea turtles, while plans are on to expand its outreach to bigger marine animals.
Currently, there is only one make-shift centre at Dahanu in Palghar district that caters to beached marine animals along the west coast. However, with an increase in incidents of beaching on the city’s shoreline in the past few years, there was a need to fast-track response mechanisms, officials said.
“The centre will help in providing timely response in cases of stranding, especially along Mumbai’s shoreline. It will also ease the burden on the Dahanu centre. Once we receive information about stranding, parallel information will be sent out to veterinarians closest to the spot to examine whether the marine animal has an injury or a health condition or will be deployed to the centre. More such centres are planned in Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts,” said Virendra Tiwari, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Mangrove Cell) and executive director of the foundation.
Between 2015 and 2018, 88 beaching incidents have been reported with 32 recorded in 2018 alone. Dead marine animals found stranded included dolphin, porpoise, turtle and whale along the Konkan coast.
While no stranding incidents were reported in Mumbai this year, two cases of dolphin beaching were reported in January 2019, while a 10-foot carcass of a baby whale shark with dismembered fins was found in the Mahul creek in March that year. A 150-kg decomposed body of a green turtle had also washed ashore at a popular seaside in Mumbai’s Nariman point. In the last one month, the Mangrove Foundation has rescued 42 sea turtles from beaches along the Konkan coast.
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