Carcasses of two dolphins found on Mumbai's Versova beach

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 07, 2015 21:53 IST

After two separate instances of dolphin carcasses washing up around Marine Drive last month, two more were found on Versova beach on Tuesday night.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) disaster management cell officials said locals informed them about the carcasses around 10pm on Tuesday and they notified the forest department. SM Deshpande, round officer (Andheri) from the forest department, said, “We will be able to determine the cause of death after we receive the post-mortem results on Saturday. One of the species has been identified as a four-feet-long Finless Porpoise and the other was a six-feet-long Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin.”

Deshpande added that the carcasses were found in a mutilated state. “A preliminary report shows the dolphins could have been killed after being hit by the edge of a boat or a propeller of a ship,” he said.

Meanwhile, a post-mortem on the carcass that was found at Nariman Point on April 27 could not identify the cause of death. The report of a detailed forensic investigation is awaited. KP Singh, chief conservator of forests, Thane, said, “The post-mortem has identified the species as Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin. We will get more information about the cause of death after the forensic report is out.”

Marine experts said the post-mortem report could not establish the cause of death as the carcasses were putrefied by the time the analysis was done. Dolphins and porpoises fall under schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

E Vivekanandan, consultant and scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Chennai, said, “The cause of death could be any of the following — senescence (old age), disease, fishing gear entanglement or vessel (propeller) hit. In areas of intense fishing, the third and fourth possibilities are the most likely causes. In these cases there will be external injuries, but in a putrefied sample, diagnosing an external injury also becomes difficult.”

Dolphin deaths: Possible causes
According to Pawan Sharma, president of NGO Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), the carcass of the dolphin that was found wedged in the middle of rocks, opposite Oberoi Hotel at Nariman Point, on April 27 had a rope tied to its tail. “The most common assumption that the marine species may have been hit by a ship is baseless without conducting a detailed autopsy and a proper report. Until the reports are studied and shared with experts, it will not be clear whether it is owing to poaching or something else,” he said.

Recent cases
May 5: The carcasses of a six-feet-long Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin and a four-feet-long Finless Porpoise were found at Versova beach. A post-mortem was conducted on them on Wednesday and they were burnt at an isolated location in Andheri

April 27 : A six-feet-long carcass of a dolphin was found wedged in the middle of the rocks opposite Oberoi Hotel at Nariman Point. The civic officials and the Marine Drive police pulled it out around 11pm on Monday using an excavator. It was handed over to the wildlife department the next day. The post-mortem could not identify the cause of death as the carcass was severely decomposed. Its body parts have been for a forensic investigation

April 21: A bruised carcass of an Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin found around 6.45pm at Marine Drive. It was picked up in a BMC van and taken to the dumping ground. The carcass was retrieved by the wildlife department from the dumping ground and sent for a post-mortem, the results of which will be released on Saturday.

About Finless Porpoise
* Finless Porpoise is a small mammal found in the coastal waters of Asia primarily in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean

* It is one of six species of porpoise and belongs to the group known as Cetacea, which includes all species of whales and dolphins

* The species is completely finless with a flat back and instead of a large fin it has a small hump or ridge with small bumps known as tubercles that are visible on the middle of its back

* Mostly a grayish color although it appears black at the time of birth

* After several months the dark coloring of the porpoise begins to fade and after six months it is almost completely gray

* Adult porpoises can reach an average height of around five-six feet in length and weigh as much as 100 pounds


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