New Delhi, May 23 (G’nY News Service): Ecologists and environment enthusiasts are overwhelmed by the sighting of a pair of blue whales off the coast of Maharashtra. Researchers on March 28, 2015 spotted a mother-calf pair of the largest mammals on this planet off the Sindhudurg coast in Maharashtra.
According to scientists and officials, blue whales have been sighted in the region after almost a century. But sightings of whales are not uncommon in the area. In an exclusive interview with G’nY correspondent, N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, Maharashtra state mangrove cell, government of Maharashtra, confirmed that Bryde’s whales have repeatedly been sighted in close locations; the closest recorded being 600 meters off the coast.
“There is something here that is attracting them – in all probability food. Although there has been a decline in the overall fish population but catches of sardine and mackerel along the Maharashtra coast has increased. Earlier mackerel and sardine were plentiful along the Kerala coast. The abundance of this fish in this region is a shift that may have been caused due to climate change,” he added.
The Cetacean Population Study team who witnessed this phenomenal sightings were deployed along the Sindhudurg Coast under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mainstreaming Coastal and Marine Biodiversity from the last six months. According to Ketki Jog, member, Cetacean Population Study team, the pair was spotted near Kunkeshwar, 2.7 km offshore at a depth of 16m.
On asked about the rarity of these sightings, Vasudevan said, “Blue whales may have been frequenting the area before – it’s just that we have not been able to record it earlier, specifically because there was no round the clock monitoring. With the UNDP programme, it was possible to keep the round the clock vigil and thus the sighting were recorded”. The possible interpretations of a mother and the calf being sighted could be myriad. “I do not want to be speculative, but one of the reason this animal and its calf entered the Arabian Sea would be availability of food. Normally, these blue whales generally do not come close to commercially busy coasts such as that of Maharashtra”.
(Photo Courtesy : www.worldwildlife.org)
Blue whales (scientific name – Balaenoptera musculus) are recognized as the largest and the heaviest mammals to have ever existed in this planet. They belong to the baleen whales family and can grow up to 98 feet in length and weight up to 1.8 lakh kgs. The IUCN Red List counts the blue whale as ‘endangered’ as it has since the list’s inception.