A 19-foot Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, weighing around 1,000 kg, was found dead along Chennai coast at Sadras Kuppam close to Kalpakkam on Wednesday morning.
Former deputy director of Zoological Survey of India and chief marine biologist, Chennai station, P Dhandapani told Express that this is the first time the whale has been sighted on the Chennai coast.
A similar whale was beached at Lakshmipuram in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh in February 2010, he said.
Supraja Dharini of Tree Foundation said the cigar-shaped whale was spotted by the foundation’s Sea Turtle Protection Force members Sundar and Devadas around 9 am and they alerted the marine mammal stranding team.
The whale, which had a uniquely shaped snout formation, was identified as an adult female and weighed around 1,000 kg. The possible cause of death is attributed to deep-sea gill net fishing as the whale also had strangulation marks around its neck and body.
Dhandapani said the whale, scientifically known as Ziphius Cavirospris is found worldwide but rare in Arctic and Antarctic oceans. “These are mostly found in Oceania and in pods. They are shy and avoid ships and trawlers. They are also found in Bay of Bengal and are rarely beached. They die in the deep ocean,” he said.
The whales have beak-like teeth in the lower jaw and have no grinding teeth, he said. Supraja said that due to the sheer size of the whale, it took the joint efforts of the Tree Foundation team and 20 local villagers to move it from the inter-tidal zone to the shore. “After repeated efforts, a earthmover was pressed into service to move the whale. The forest ranger of Chengalpet range-Kanchipuram was informed and two foresters and two guards were present to see the burial of the whale.