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Maharashtra to begin 5-year acoustic study to understand marine life in November

The project aims to understand the distribution, population, behaviour and threats to marine mammals along Maharashtra’s coastline.

mumbai Updated: Aug 16, 2018 07:42 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra,Marine life,Maharashtra forest department
Recurring appearances of dolphin, whale and porpoise carcasses along the Konkan coast has prompted the state to devise measures to protect these species.(Reuters File Photo)

In response to the numerous cases of dead marine animals along the coastline, the Maharashtra forest department will begin a five-year-long study using noise monitoring instruments at sea. The project is expected to begin in November and aims to understand the distribution, population, behaviour and threats to marine mammals along the state’s coastline.

“To initiate any conservation measure, it is imperative to know what species are present along the state’s coastline. While we have got stranding reports of many marine mammals including whales, the data is insufficient to understand specific details about them,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forests and mangrove cell, Mumbai.

The instruments can record noise underwater across 25 to 30 kilometres and will be installed at different locations, spanning a distance of 15 nautical miles from the coast to the exclusive economic zone. They will record noise readings from marine mammals, who communicate using high frequencies, every six months. The data will be analysed to develop maps of their distribution and movement.

“This project will help develop baseline data related to when marine animals are migrating, which direction they are moving, whether they are foraging or breeding in our waters and so on,” said Vasudevan.

Recurring appearances of dolphin, whale and porpoise carcasses along the Konkan coast has prompted the state to devise measures to protect these species. There have been 90 deaths of marine animals so far along the Mumbai coast since 2016, and the causes of deaths remain unclear beyond “respiratory infection”.

Marine biologists suspect a rise in shipping activity is also responsible for some marine animal deaths.

Vasudevan said the state intends to develop the project under the species recovery plan by the ministry of environment, forests and climate change. “We will be sending a proposal to MoEFCC. Funding has not been finalised but we expect support from the central and state government. As of now, funds from the mangrove foundation will be used to start the basic data collection from November onwards,” said Vasudevan.

First Published: Aug 16, 2018 07:42 IST

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