Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dwarf Sperm Whale Dies On Beach In Palolem, India; And Third Dead Whale Found Within A Month Off Central Vietnam?!

The dwarf sperm whale that washed ashore in Palolem on March 23 is the third confirmed case on India’s western coast.

April 12, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Dwarf Sperm whale dies on beach in Palolem, India

The rarely-sighted dwarf sperm whale, stranded at Palolem beach recently, died due to shock caused by external injury, a postmortem examination has revealed.

The distressed mammal surfaced a few times on the beach on March 26, despite being pushed into the sea by rescuers, but washed ashore dead after midnight amid traumatic conditions. Discerning tourists and others alleged that the struggling animal was touched and pulled by the unruly crowd with bare hands, contrary to a set protocol to handle these marine mammals.

The rare sighting, the first recorded on Goa's shoreline, of this barely nine feet-long female mammal, as compared to other huge whale species, drew hordes of tourists and others.

Dwarf sperm whale

Speculation was rife in some quarters that plastic possibly embedded in its entrails may have proved fatal. There have been a few cases of whales dying of plastic ingestion. "We learnt from an expert on dwarf sperm whales that plastic ingestion is often the cause of death, as it inhibits proper feeding," Abhishek Jamalabad, an independent marine biologist associated with the Karwar-based Terra Marine Research Institute, said.

But, a report of the postmortem examination conducted by Dr Ransley Caldeira, veterinary officer of the animal husbandry and veterinary services, Canacona, that was submitted to the forest department stated, "The dwarf sperm whale suffered external injury, leading to shock and death."

Injury was caused by a sharp object, which had pierced into its skin near the tail. A gash and a few lacerations could be observed on the mammal, as it thrashed in shallow water.

The report stated that there was no damage to internal organs nor was any plastic found in its entrails.

But, researchers are not sure if injury alone could have proved fatal and aver that it could be due to a compounded effect. "To determine the cause of death might not be possible at all times, especially in case of marine mammals, as our knowledge regarding them is very limited in the first place," says Ketki Jog, an independent researcher of the Malwan-based Konkan cetacean research team.

The carcass was buried after the autopsy and no part of the viscera was preserved for further examination.

Third dead whale found within a month off central Vietnam

Local fishers hold a funeral ceremony for a dead whale in Nghe An Province on April 8, 2016. © Tuoi Tre

At least three dead whales have been found in the central province of Nghe An over the last month, local media reported.

In the latest incident, on Monday afternoon, some tourists found the carcass of a whale on Cua Lo Beach.

The whale measured around one meter in length and 40 kilograms in weight. There were some wounds on its body.

Local fishers then held a ritual burial for the whale, which they considered sacred.

Three days earlier, a 44-year-old fisher also found a dead whale near the same beach.

The whale was around 1.5 meter-long and weighed 80 kilograms.

On March 16, another fisher in Nghi Loc District nearby found the carcass of a whale ashore.

The body had started decaying. The whale was around 1.5 meter-long and weighed around 50 kilograms.

While some local fishers believe that beached whales are signs of good luck, environmentalists are very concerned.

They say it is unusual to see several dead whales in a particular place within a short period of time.

- Times of India | Thanh Nien News.

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