CHENNAI: Seeking possible reasons for around 100 whales being stranded, with several of them beached, the earthquake in Indonesia on Monday, that registered 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale could possibly be one of the causes for the whales being washed on to the shores of the Tiruchendur coast in TN, says former director of Zoological Survey of India, K Venkatraman.
The whales were identified as ‘short-finned pilot whales’ (Globicephala macrorhynchus gray). Venkatraman, who is currently senior scientific consultant at the National Centre for Sustainable Management, Anna University, told Express that whales bond with each other emotionally and move together in pods. “Usually, a quake of 4.6 on the Richter is enough for these whales to jump out of the water. For this earthquake, the Richter scale recorded a magnitude of nearly 7,” said Venkataraman, recalling the stranding of 44 whales in Elizabeth Bay in Western Andamans in October 2012.
An earthquake causes a huge sound underwater forcing whales to jump out of the water, Venkataraman said.
He said that the stranding and beaching of such a large number of whales on the Tiruchendur coastline could also have occurred due to equatorial currents.
“The Earth rotates 1,600 km per second that results in equatorial currents. The whales would have come along effortlessly due to the current,” he added.
Venkataraman added that of the 75 species of whales, 25 species are found in India. Of these, 10 species, if they get stranded, do so in groups while another 10 species do so in ones or twos.
In addition to the 2012 October stranding in the Andamans, 140 whales were stranded in the Gulf of Mannar in Manapadu in 1973.
As per the Zoological Survey of India records for the 200 years from 1800 to 2000, a total of 1,432 whales have been stranded along the coast of Tamil Nadu.