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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Five endangered humpback dolphins sighted near Vasai coast

In 2017, the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin was classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

mumbai Updated: Feb 13, 2019 13:17 IST
Ram Parmar
Ram Parmar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A tourist guide who spotted the humpback dolphins, said this was the first time the mammals were seen near Vasai coast.
A tourist guide who spotted the humpback dolphins, said this was the first time the mammals were seen near Vasai coast.(HT Photo )
         

In a rare sighting, a tourist guide spotted five endangered Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins near Rajodi beach off Vasai coast on Sunday.

The state mangrove cell identified the species, protected under schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. “A pod (group) of nine dolphins has been spotted at various locations along Mumbai’s coast from Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Versova and Madh jetty going all the way towards the Thane creek end, and this sighting might be of the same pod,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “We have initiated a five-year-long study using noise monitoring instruments at sea to understand the behaviour and habitat of these species, which will tell us why they are moving closer to the coastline.”

Nikhil Tandel, the tourist guide who spotted the dolphins, said this was the first time the mammals were seen near Vasai coast.

In 2017, the dolphin was classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These dolphins usually live in shallow, coastal waters, which put them at high risk of getting entangled in fishing nets. A tally of 94 marine mammal deaths, majorly comprising humpback dolphins, has been recorded along the Mumbai coast between 2014 and 2018. However, there have been no reports of dolphin carcasses washing ashore in 2019 so far.

On January 20, runners during the 16th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon were pleasantly surprised as they spotted a pod of Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins off the Mumbai coast along the Worli Sea Link.

Experts said it was a rare sight but the rise in dolphin movement was indicator of turbid waters along the city’s coastline. “Dolphins are known to withstand high turbidity in search of food. These are good documentations if these species are coming close to the coast. Increased monitoring, protection and population assessment studies are needed,” said E Vivekanandan, former chief scientist and national consultant, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

(with inputs from Badri Chatterjee)

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 13:17 IST