Juvenile pygmy killer whale beached in Ramanathapuram, rescued

Local forest officials said a medical examination was conducted to ensure that the whale did not sustain any injuries, following which, it was released into the sea.
Anti-poaching watcher Selvam guided the whale back to the sea by swimming along with it.
Anti-poaching watcher Selvam guided the whale back to the sea by swimming along with it.(Photo | Express)

RAMANATHAPURAM: A rare pygmy killer whale, which got washed ashore near Naripaiyur village in Ramanathapuram range, was rescued by forest officials of Thoothukudi Wildlife Range on Sunday. According to sources, the 1.5 metre long juvenile whale was spotted ashore by forest department watchers, who initially mistook it for a dolphin. The mammal was later identified as a pygmy killer whale, an endangered species protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, sources said.

Local forest officials said a medical examination was conducted to ensure that the whale did not sustain any injuries, following which, it was released into the sea. “As the young whale got stranded from its pod, it roamed in the shore for a long time, even after the release. By evening, two adult pygmy whales came to the region, and accompanied the young one back,” officials said.

Forest department officials said Gulf of Mannar houses over 117 species of corals, fishes and endangered species such as dolphins, porpoises, dugongs, turtles and whales. Marine mammal (cetacean) movements are common in the shorelines during the fishing ban period, owing to low boat movement in the coastlines. Moreover, the forest department has created awareness among fishers regarding rescue of endangered species that get washed ashore, they added.

Bakan Jagdish Sudhakar, wildlife warden of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, said, “Pygmy killer whales are very rarely spotted as they reside only in deep waters. The reason as to why the whale got stranded is yet to be ascertained. It is likely that the young whale might have got confused.”

He further appreciated the efforts of the forest team and anti-poaching watcher Selvam who guided the whale back to the sea by swimming along with it.

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