According a a new report from the Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit (MMCU), marine animal mortalities have increased from 12 cases in 2015 when such info was first recorded to 34 cases in the first nine months of 2018.
In total, there was 94 reported marine mammal deaths from 2015 and 2018 which include 40 Indian Ocean humpback dolphins, 28 turtles, 17 Indo-Pacific finless porpoises, four flamingos, and five whales which breakdown to one blue whale, three Bryde’s whales, and a dwarf sperm whale.
Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, said that autopsies were carried out in 10% of all cases reported over four years. “Most of the carcasses are completely decomposed and conducting post mortems is not possible,” said Ghodke according to the hindustan times.
“The rising mortality is dangerous and a cause of concern,” said Dr Baban Ingole, head of marine biology department, National Institute of Oceanography. “Respiratory ailments for marine animals are a direct indicator of polluted coastal waters. The trend indicates that cases will rise in coming years, and a detailed study needs to be initiated to mitigate this.”
The news is extremely troubling considering the water quality is the lead contributor to the mammals deaths. The state mangrove cell will now be going ahead to initiate a five-year study to understand the distribution, population, behavior and threats to marine mammals along the Konkan coast by installing noise monitoring instruments at sea.
“Apart from diseases, man-made causative factors such as propeller hits from large ships and trawlers for dolphin pods or groups of whales or smaller cetaceans such as sea turtles, porpoises etc. getting caught in gill nets are responsible for rising cetacean mortalities. These two factors can be done away with,” said Deepak Apte, director of Bombay Natural History Society.
As well, the state is currently working to develop conservation plans with animal welfare organizations and has already began training programs for veterinarians whom will assist teams during stranding rescue operations.