A rescue team of the Central Marine Fish Research Institute (CMFRI) and forest department worked throughout the night to save 40 dolphins which were washed ashore in Tuticorin. Four of the dolphins later died after rescuers pushed them back to the sea.(CMFRI photo)
A rescue team of the Central Marine Fish Research Institute (CMFRI) and forest department worked throughout the night to save 40 dolphins which were washed ashore in Tuticorin. Four of the dolphins later died after rescuers pushed them back to the sea.(CMFRI photo)

‘For us, it is a sad news’: Forty dolphins wash ashore in Tuticorin coast, four die

This is not the first time Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district is seeing mass marine deaths. Officials say only a detailed study can find out why the deep sea dolphins come ashore.
By Ramesh Babu | Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON NOV 29, 2017 09:15 AM IST

Fishermen and marine officials raced against time in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin Monday night to push back as many as 40 dolphins into the sea after they washed ashore and got stranded on the beach. Despite their best efforts, four of the dolphins died.

Local fishermen who spotted the dolphins immediately alerted district officials. A joint rescue team of the Central Marine Fish Research Institute (CMFRI) and forest department worked throughout the night to save them.

Although all the dolphins were pushed back into the sea, four carcasses washed ashore later and local people fear more dolphins could die.

“Most of the stranded (dolphins) were between two and three metres long weighing 75 to 130 kg. Of the dead three are females and one is male. Post-mortem report says two of them were suffering from slight lung infection,” said Dr Manoj Kumar, CMFRI scientist based at Tuticorin centre. However, he said the reasons for the strange phenomenon can be gauged only after detailed investigations.

“We are keeping a strict vigil along the shore with forest officials. Since dolphins come under the protected group of animals their upkeep and protection come primarily under the forest department,” said Dr L Ranjith, another scientist at the CMFRI.

This is not the first time Tuticorin district has been witnessing mass marine deaths. Last year, 83 dolphins were washed ashore and more than half of them later perished. In 1974, 70 pilot whales were washed ashore and many died later.

“The spotted dolphins are deep sea species and their usual habitat is a depth of 50 m and more. But of late these seas mammals are often getting stranded near shores,” said Kumar. A detailed study is needed to understand changes in their habitat, he added.

“For us, it is a sad news. Dolphins are gentle animals. Often we gauge the presence of large school of fish by observing their behaviour,” said a fisherman who skipped his day duty to keep vigil on the beach near the fishing hamlet in Punnanikayal.  

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