CHENNAI: A Pan Tropical Spotted Dolphin may have been a new mom if washed ashore a little earlier, on Monday. According to volunteers who rushed to the spot at Nainar Kuppam beach, near Injambakkam - the pregnant dolphin had suffered severe haemorrhaging and blood loss while giving birth in the ocean, and by the time it was stranded ashore, it had already passed away.
Five members of the Marine Mammal Stranding and Rescue team from TREE Foundation conducted a desperate post mortem delivery, in an attempt to save the calf that was already partly visible. “But it was too late,” recalls a woeful Supraja Dharini, founder of the organisation, that has been recording strandings of whales and dolphins since 2009. “It’s likely the calf died around the same time as the mother,” she says.
Apart from the internal haemorrhaging caused by birthing, she adds that the dolphin also showed injury marks on the underside and a small piece of its tail flipper missing. The team determined it was a Pan Tropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) with its distinctive markings, coupled by a long thin beak that was separated from the melon by a distinct crease. A dark grey band encircled the eye, and continued forward to the apex of the melon; there was also a dark gape-to-flipper stripe.
The incident which took place at 5.30 am on Monday morning brought a depressing start to the week for this group of marine life enthusiasts. And an informal funeral was held shortly after, as volunteers dug a sandy grave for the dolphin, about 20 metres above the high tide line. “We said a small prayer, and buried both mother and calf together,” said a grieving volunteer.