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Mumbai’s first marine rescue centre to come up at Juhu

15 marine animals washed ashore on city beaches this year alone; the state is planning the ₹1-crore rescue centre at Juhu to help save the ones that survive

mumbai Updated: Aug 08, 2017 09:19 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
mumbai,Mumbai beaches,Carcasses
Between 2015 and 2017, 77 carcasses washed ashore on Mumbai’s beaches

The dolphins, whales, porpoises and turtles that wash ashore Mumbai’s beaches injured will soon get medical aid at the city’s first marine mammal rescue centre.

Proposed at Juhu beach, the centre is part of the government’s plan to invest Rs1 crore to build rescue centres in every district along Maharashtra’s 720-km coastline.

Between 2015 and 2017, 77 carcasses washed ashore on Mumbai’s beaches — 15 of them this year alone. Any that may have survived died for lack of medical help, which the centre at Juhu aims to change. “We have identified a 1,000sqft area at Juhu. It will be open on all sides and have a shed covering it, almost like a shack as the area falls under the coastal regulation zone (CRZ)-I and construction is not allowed,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forests, state mangrove cell. “Currently, the structure is being designed. Work should be completed by December and the centre will be fully operational by January.” Ghodke said Juhu was chosen as it was at the centre of the city’s west coast.

“Mumbai needed such a rescue centre as the most number of mammal strandings were reported from the west coast,” said Ghodke. “The centre will also be useful to study protected marine species.”

READ: Rare 60kg whale washes ashore Rajodi beach near Mumbai, dies during rescue by fishermen

For instance, last month, a seven-and-a-half foot sperm whale washed ashore at the Rajodi Beach between Virar and Nalasopara. It was not clear at first if it was a juvenile, pygmy or dwarf of the sperm whale species. Both the dwarf and pygmy species are protected under schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. A week later, after researchers dug out the body and studied the carcass, it was confirmed the mammal was a Dwarf sperm whale.

The Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA) in Dahanu will assist the rescue cell with veterinary operations. WCAWA has treated about 200 turtles over seven years. While a large number of dead turtles are pulled back into the sea, the NGO has calculated an average of 50 turtle deaths in Mumbai a year. “The rescue centre will act as a preliminary treatment centre with facilities such as x-ray, gaseous anesthesia and first-aid. It will function like a small hospital,” said Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, a wildlife veterinarian and turtle expert, WCAWA.

READ: Three injured Olive Ridley turtles wash ashore in three days near Mumbai

“While amenities to treat marine mammals like dolphins, whales and porpoises will be provided by the forest department, our focus will be to provide care for turtles. The turtles will be shifted to Dahanu for long-term treatment.”

Ghost nets used by fishermen was one of the major reasons so many turtles and marine animals get injured and wash ashore, Dr Vinherkar said.

“It is a source of pollution in the sea. These mammals and reptiles are getting stuck in them. Another source of harm is the propeller engines on boats.  With the rise in sea traffic, more animal injuries are being reported” said Dr Vinherkar.

First Published: Aug 08, 2017 09:19 IST