Whales washed ashore on TN coast: What could have caused it

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2016 09:11 IST
Despite rescue efforts, over 30 short-finned pilot whales died after over 120 have washed ashore on Tamil Nadu coast near Tuticorin. (PTI)

At least 45 whales have died after mysteriously being washed up on a beach in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district.

Officials have confirmed that as many as 80 short-finned pilot whales had become stranded on the sand without any clear reason behind the spate of beached animals.

Helped by local fishermen, workers of the Tamil Nadu fisheries department, police and the administration managed to save 36 whales of the pod -- or group -- by towing them back to sea on Tuesday.

Read: 45 whales die in TN, experts hint at underwater disturbances

While beaching of whales and other aquatic animals is common around the world, experts said it was rare to find such a large number of whales washing up ashore and hinted at the mammals being disoriented by underground activity.

Here are some possible reasons that could have caused this catastrophe:

1. Heavy underwater activity like earthquake or volcano can disturb whales resulting in their distress movement towards the coast.

2. Whales have a nature of moving against the waves. So, during ebbing when the water is receding from the shores into the ocean, the whales may get caught in a situation when there is no water left to swim resulting in getting stranded on the coast.

3. Attack by bigger sea creatures like sharks may force the pilot whale to swim towards the safer coast without understanding the consequence.

4. Man made conditions like ship causing injury to whales or its wreckage have also been found to be a reason. That may not be the case in Tuticorn.

5. Only in 50% of such cases --- high frequency in north America ---- the real reason for whales landing on the shore is known.

In pics: Over 100 whales washed ashore on TN coast, 45 dead

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