On Monday evening, around 50 dolphins were washed to the shores of the small town of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. Out of the 50, as many as eight dolphins died with more than 40 struggling for life. Throughout Monday night, the locals in Tuticorin relentlessly worked hard to save these dolphins. This is not the first time in Tuticorin when the cruelty of Mother Nature has been witnessed. This is the second major incident within two years of dolphins being stranded at the beach. But it is the first time when such a large number of dolphins were seen washed ashore.
More than 83 pilot whales were seen at the shores of Tuticorin on January 13 last year. They were taken back to the sea immediately but they washed up again on the beach leaving them dead. A similar incident was seen on January 13, 1974. Officials from the Forest Department then said that approximately 70 pilot whales washed to the shores of Manapad in Tuticorin district.
A fisherman from the region shared his concerns over the dolphins. “Some of the dolphins were more than 15 foot long. We counted, eight of them have already died. We dragged almost every remaining dolphin but they kept coming back,” said a local fisherman.
Officials from the Forest and fisheries department will only be able to cite the cause of death only after post-mortem, which can be done on Tuesday.
“The species used to be in numbers of five to 25 in a shoal. Fifty is quite a big number. They prey on smaller fish varieties that are commonly known as ‘nethali’ and ‘chalai’. Availability of feed determines the size of the shoal,” said Dr. Lal Mohan, a Fisheries expert. Dr Mohan is also a former principal scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute and has ruled out the possibility of pollution.
Dr Mohan points out to illegal fishing using explosives like dynamite. He said, “There have been incidents of using dynamite for fishing off the Punnaikayal shore. Fishermen throw the explosive into the sea, causing shoals of fish to die due to shock.”