Forest officials and local fishermen freed a six-foot Indo-pacific humpback dolphin that was stuck for 14 hours in the shallow waters of the Amba river, near Nagothane village.
This is the second stranding in a week in Raigad — a 20-tonne blue whale died on the Revdanda beach last week as it could not get back to the sea.
The dolphin got stuck 46km away from the mouth of the estuary. Some residents spotted it around 9.30am on Wednesday and informed forest officials.
“One of the locals spotted the dolphin and told forest officials the animal had got stuck between two rocky outgrowths, after the high tide receded,” said Kunal Salunke, a wildlife photographer who reached the spot by noon on Wednesday. The dolphin might have strayed into the river during high tide, he said. “It was probably trying to hunt, when it lost its pod (group) and strayed in.”
Mihir Sule, researcher at Konkan Cetacean Research Team said, “Around 12.30am on Thursday, we set up a few nets around the area where the dolphin was stuck, so that it picks up the alarm and travels back towards the sea, instead of moving upstream.”
Sule, along with 40 forest officials and 30 fishermen waited till midnight to conduct the rescue operation. “The dolphin did not go back during the day was because it was scared. There were almost 300 people in the area, making a lot of noise. During the night, with silence all around, our rescue efforts proved successful,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator, state mangrove cell.
The full-moon night helped. Once high tide set in, the dolphin was not seen at the spot. It was safely reunited with its pod in the sea, Sule said. “It almost seemed as if the pod was waiting for this one and had communicated their location to it,” Vasudevan said.