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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Carcass of rare whale washes ashore beach in Maharashtra’s Raigad district

The carcass, with injury marks near its head and beak, was spotted on June 9 by fishermen, who alerted the forest and fisheries department.

mumbai Updated: Jul 16, 2019 08:56 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Marine experts said this was the first time the species was seen on Maha coastline.
Marine experts said this was the first time the species was seen on Maha coastline.(HT Photo)
         

In a first for Maharashtra’s coastline, the carcass of a Cuvier’s beaked whale washed ashore at Diveagar beach in Raigad district last week. Marine experts have called this a scientifically important event.

Cuvier’s beaked whales, found in all offshore oceans from the tropics to the polar regions, live in kilometre-deep seawaters and are rarely spotted near the coast. With small flippers, sickle-shaped or triangular dorsal fins, they range from dark grey to light rusty in colour.

“We have currently identified the species based on photos received by us. So far, there are no stranding reports of this whale along the Maharashtra coast nor has it been documented offshore from the coastline,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

The carcass, with injury marks near its head and beak, was spotted on June 9 by fishermen, who alerted the forest and fisheries department. But, according to marine biologist Swapnil Tandel, none of the authorities turned up and the fishermen were forced to bury the carcass on the beach as they could not stand its stench.

“The cause of injury is unknown and reasons are speculative. Based on what our team finds, we will transport the skeletal remains of the whale to be put on display at the marine mammal museum in Navi Mumbai,” said Vasudevan.

Mihir Sule, a marine expert from the Konkan Cetacean Research Team (KCRT), said there was only one record of this species stranding in India, along the Karnataka coastline, in the past.

According to the Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Network of India, there are records of Cuvier beaked whales beaching on Sri Lankan and Pakistani coasts.

First Published: Jul 16, 2019 07:15 IST

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