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40-ft whale washes ashore in two parts at Juhu and Madh in Mumbai

MUMBAI CITY NEWS: Researchers from the Konkan Cetacean Research Team said it was most likely a Bryde’s whale

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2017 09:02 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Juhu,Madh
The 16-foot part of the Bryde’s whale carcass found at Madh beach.(HT)

Two parts of a 40-foot decomposed carcass of a whale washed ashore at two beaches — one at Juhu (20 feet) and the remaining 16 feet at Madh beach — on Sunday morning. This is the first such case in Mumbai this year.

Researchers from the Konkan Cetacean Research Team (KCRT) said the whale was most likely a Bryde’s whale, most commonly found baleen whale along the Indian coast. They have a sharp rostrum and variable falcate dorsal fins. They can grow up to 50 feet.

State forest officials and KCRT confirmed that the two parts were of the same whale. While the head and throat of the whale had washed ashore near Retreat Hotel at Madh beach, the remaining body and the tail were found near Novotel Hotel, Juhu.

The 20-foot portion that washed ashore Juhu beach on Sunday. (HT)

This was the 14th case of dead marine animal carcass washing ashore Mumbai’s beaches. Between 2015 and 2017, 74 carcasses have washed ashore along the city’s coastline. “Local residents informed us about half a carcass on Sunday morning and we immediately reached the spot. After researchers from KCRT collected tissue samples from the mammal’s body, we buried the mammal at one end of Juhu beach,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

About Bryde’s whales
  • Bryde’s Whales (Balaenoptera edeni) are the most common baleen whales along the Indian coast.
  • Can be easily identified at sea by the presence of three ridges on the rostrum
  • Have a sharp rostrum and variable falcate dorsal fins
  • Can reach a maximum length of 15 metres (The carcass of the male Bryde’s whale that beached at Juhu was 11.3 metres in length – nearly 40 feet and weighed 20 tonnes)
  • Known to feed on small schooling fish such as sardines
  • Weight can be between 13-22 tonnes
  • Population is less than 100,000 across the world
  • Status – protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Source: The Konkan Cetacean Research team

Meanwhile, Madh residents told HT that the head and throat of a whale had washed ashore early on Sunday. “Morning walkers and joggers spotted the mammal first and since it was open from one end, it emanated a horrible stench. Locals from the area informed the police. However, the body remained at the spot till late Sunday evening,” said Arpita Tupdal, Madh resident.

Ghodke added that the forest department was informed about it only by late Sunday evening. “Our team will be visiting the site on Monday morning to ensure that the carcass is buried, tissue samples are collected and a full report regarding the incident filed,” he said.

Researchers said that the whale might have died a few weeks ago. “While nothing can be said conclusively, it is clear that the whale could have died at least two weeks ago but not more than a month ago. The decomposition process also might have led to the splitting of the carcass,” said Mihir Sule, member, KCRT. “Small portions of the whale (approximately 4-feet) could have fallen at sea when the body split.”

First Published: May 22, 2017 09:46 IST