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About 80 Whales Washed Ashore on Tuticorin Beach, Over 40 Die

Why are dozens of whale stranded on a beach in Tuticorin, TN, despite fishermen putting them back into the sea? 

Updated
India
2 min read
Two of the many whales washed on the shores of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. (Photo: ANI)

Around 45 whales of the 80 that had washed ashore in Tuticorin, close to 600 km from Chennai’s coastline in Tamil Nadu, died before they could be rescued.

A team from Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute in Tuticorin had reached the site and have been trying to rescue the whales.

It all started when two to three whales were spotted on the shores of Kulasekarapatinam on Monday night after which the fishermen put them back into the sea. But on Tuesday morning a large number of whales were seen back on the shores.

We are constantly trying to rescue the whales, but, unfortunately, 45 of them have died. Around 80 whales were stranded when we came here.

Deepal Bilgi, member of the rescue team
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The short-finned pilot whales were first spotted by locals and fishermen.

This is definitely not common, but it has happened before. Scientifically the reasons can vary from the whales reaching to the shore in search of food, to strong currents in the sea. Whales live in a community and sometimes if one member is stranded on a beach the other flock to reach out to the member, leading to all of them being washed away.

JK Patterson Edward, director of Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute in Tuticorin. 

A similar phenomenon happened in 1973 when more than 147 whales were stranded on a beach in Tamil Nadu. After spending almost two days on the shore, the whales were pushed back into the sea but all of them died few days later.

In August 2015, a carcass of a 33-feet-long whale was washed up on the shores of a village beach near Tarangambadi in Nagapattinam district.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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