Carcasses Pile Up as Whales Continue to Land on TN Coast

Death toll touches 73, as more mammals head for Manapad; experts collecting samples

Published: 14th January 2016 04:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2016 07:59 AM   |  A+A-


THOOTHUKUDI: The death toll of whales increased to 73, as more continued to wash ashore on the Manapad beach on Wednesday. Only six of them could be rescued.

In the morning, 15 whales washed ashore and 11 of them died. In the evening, more washed ashore.

Experts said that nothing can be done to prevent the increase in the number of deaths. Lal Mohan, member of the International Union of Doplhin Studies and also the author of the ‘Dolphins and Whales in India’, said that it can be said that disorientation was the main reason for the beaching and no there are no man-made reasons.

The main problem is that the group is led by a pilot whale and if he goes wrong the rest follow suit. Hence, even if they are let into deep sea they would return to the coast and ultimately die, said Lal Mohan.

Researchers have started collecting genetic samples from the carcasses. Murugan, head, Marine Ecology and Conservation Department, VOC College, Thoothukudi, said that it would take a month to complete the tests and at the end their location and migration pattern would be known.

Judging by their injuries it can assumed that they could have collided with coral reefs and it could have triggered the distress signal.

The pilot whale would have followed it and washes ashore, said Murugan.

Meanwhile, the local fishermen hauled two whales into the mid-sea. Thennavan, an environmental activist, led 70 fishermen in two large mechanised boats and pulled the two whales weighing two tonnes each. After six hours of struggle they were dropped at 10 nautical miles. Thennavan said that whales are sacred to the fishermen and its presence is a sign of prosperity. Hence, the fishermen would do anything to help them. Environmental activist Gunaseelan, said that if the whales are not buried properly foul smell would start to emanate and as Pongal festival is on the doorstep it would effect tourism as hordes of tourists visit Manapad beach. Apart from that there are chances of a disease outbreak, he said.

‘Geological changes behind migration’

Cuddalore: A day after over a 100 small-finned pilot whales beached themselves in Thoothukudi coast, marine experts attributed geological changes for the situation. Director of Centre of Advanced Study (CAS) in Marine Biology K Kathiresan said, “Various geological changes take place in the sea during the months of December and January. There will be changes in the ocean currents and low-intensity quakes might occur. These lead to the migration of whales. At times, they get disoriented and reach the shallow areas.” Meanwhile, Orissa Balu, a researcher, said, “Pollution might have caused an increase in sea temperature, which leads to fall in oxygen level. This might have caused suffocation.”


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