CHENNAI: A rare nine-ft long female shortfin pilot whale was found stranded in Sadras Kuppam beach on Thursday evening. This was the first stranding of this species since 2009.
“We were informed by our volunteers who spotted the dolphin. Upon closer examination of its body and flippers and the overall shape, it was positively identified as a Shortfin Pilot Whale,” said Supraja Dharini, from TREE Foundation. “The whale was not in a decomposed condition indicating that it died quite recently,” she added.
“On first look, it resembled a Risso’s dolphin. They have a pot-shaped melon on the head that rises steeply from the blow hole and may over hang the mouth by as much as 10 cm,” she said. Short fin pilot whales are rarely spotted at sea and according to Supraja this stranding was an unusual occurrence. “There was an injury on the underside of the left lower jaw and below the eye and many shallow cut marks on the front part of the body. This too might be a victim of trawler boats,” she said.
Short fin whales are normally found in sub-tropical and tropical waters of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are known to travel in groups of ten or more and form close social bonds within the group. They feed mainly at night with their preferred food being squid and could eat up to 45 kg per day. Males weigh up to 3000 kg while females typically weigh half that at 1500 kg.