Samples of carcasses of 45 whales that were washed ashore near Tiruchendur beach have been taken for laboratory tests to ascertain the exact cause of their death, Fisheries Department officials today said. Officials today clarified that carcasses of 45 short-finned pilot whales were found washed ashore near Tiruchendur beach in Tuticorin district early yesterday, in a phenomenon they described as unusual.
"This is an unusual thing...an unusual mortality incident, we have to find out the reason," marine scientist Velumani of the Fisheries Department, had said yesterday. Officials had yesterday said remains of 38 whales were washed ashore while more than 250 whales that were stranded in shallow waters were pushed back into the deep sea. Assistant Director of Fisheries Amal Xavier said the carcasses were buried after extracting samples like blood and flesh.
According to another official, Velpandian, whales were social creatures which travelled in groups. The groups could have followed some whale which got disoriented due to sickness or after collision with some vessel. The recent earthquakes in Indonesia and Philippines could have interfered with the biological navigation of the marine mammals causing them to lose their sense of direction, according to some officials.
Shenbagaraan, a scientist, said it was a tragedy that so many whales died and cited environmental pollution as one of the reasons for it. Over exploitation of beach sand in the belt could have caused some change in the sea current and this also could have affected the whales. On the likelihood of pollution having caused the death of whales, an official said it was possible but the reasons would be known after tests.
According to JK Patterson of Suganthi Devadasan Marine Research Centre, "This type of whales is found in almost all the seas in the world. They live in groups. Each group would have separate system of communicating through signals. One of the whales that got separated could have given the signal to the group members leading to all whales coming to the shore and getting stranded." No injuries were found on the whales, Gulf of Mannar wild life warden Deepak S Bilji said.
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Director Sundar said there was no link between the death of the whales and the plant as it was shut down for maintenance and no generation was taking place currently. Besides the place where the whales were washed ashore was located 40 kilometres from it, he added.