Rare whale skeleton transported from Diveagar to Navi Mumbai
Less than two weeks after the carcass of a rare marine mammal – Cuvier’s beaked whale – washed ashore at Diveagar beach in Raigad, the state mangrove cell transported its 16-foot skeletal remains to Airoli in Navi Mumbai, on Saturday. The skeleton will be displayed at the proposed Giants of the Sea museum at the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMBC).
On July 9, the fishing community at Diveagar beach in Shrivardhan taluka alerted the forest and fisheries departments after finding the carcass of the whale, which had injuries on its body and head. Locals said they had to bury the remains at the beach itself as state agencies did not turn up to collect the carcass.
On Friday, a team of 25 people, including forest officials, reached the spot to recover the whale carcass. “We used an excavator machine to dig out the body and de-fleshed it,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
Cuvier’s beaked whales are widely distributed in offshore waters and are rarely spotted near the coast. This is the first reported incident of a carcass of the species washing up on the Maharashtra coast.
“There is always a risk of high decomposition when the whales are buried at beaches as high tide water seeps into the buried spots and the carcass washes away,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
The team transported the skeletal structure using a 20-foot trailer, covering a distance of 250km from Diveagar to Airoli, on Saturday. “We were lucky that the body was intact and we could retrieve the entire skeleton,” Ghodke said.
Vasudevan said the skeletons of two other species – a pygmy sperm whale and a sperm whale – will also be transported to Airoli soon. Earlier this month, HT had reported that the state government had approved the construction of the country’s first solar-powered marine life museum – Giants of the Sea – at CMBC, Airoli. While an architect is yet to be appointed, a small area at CMBC has been allocated to store the future exhibits.