'Where Leader Goes, Rest Follow'

Published: 13th January 2016 04:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th January 2016 04:07 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Quite apart from the sheer number of whales that have beached themselves on the TN coast, yet another factor complicates rescue operations, say experts. Supraja Dharani, TREE Foundation’s chairperson says that the species of the whale is going to be a challenge to any effort.

“These are Short Finned Pilot Whales. As the name suggests, they invariably follow the leader during migrations and the cause of most beachings is the leader getting injured or disoriented and turning toward the coast. Where the leader goes, the rest follow,” she says.

Identifying the leader from a pod of Pilot whales is nigh impossible, she said. “If a rescue is to be successful, the entire pod will have to be ferried and dropped off beyond the breakwaters. Because if not, they will continue beaching themselves. Whales and dolphins also do not abandon their injured podmates,” she said.

Not just human pressure   

The recorded history of strandings dates back to 300 BC, during the time of Aristotle, establishing that it is not just the human pressures on the Nature that is causing this. Some believe that the other mammals are responding to the distress call of those stranded on the beach

Rescued mammals return to beach

What makes this even more mysterious is the mammals returning to the beach even after being rescued - as was the case in Tuticorin - which proves that it is not an accidental stranding. Marine biology experts are carrying out studies into the large-scale beaching


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