In one of the biggest rescues in India, a 47-feet-long blue whale, the largest mammal in the world, was rescued after it was beached near village Madban in Ratnagiri district.
The whale weighed around 20 tonnes and was beached for over two days. After local fishermen spotted the mammal, they informed forest officers.
Two boats with 50 personnel carried out the rescue operation over eight hours by pulling the mammal into the sea with the help of ropes during high tide.
“Four forest officials led the rescue operation along with local NGOs and fishermen, and the whale was pulled into deep sea by Sunday afternoon. The whale was stranded along the shoreline during low tide on Thursday or Friday. We can only assume this because the animal was out of the water when it was found and its ribs were visible,” Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, told HT.
The officials believe that the mammal would have suffered an injury or an internal parasitic infection due to which it lost its navigation abilities.
R Patil, range forest officer, Ratnagiri said, “The animal could have suffered an injury or an internal parasitic infection due to which it lost its navigation abilities and moved closer to the shore. However, after the massive rescue operation, we saw the whale speed its way back into the deep sea.”
Earlier in February this year, a 40-foot-long blue whale was rescued with the help of two boats in a nine-hour long rescue operation near Daboli, Ratnagiri.
Before that, in August last year, a 42-foot-long live blue whale had washed ashore and beached at Alibaug. Though several attempts were made by the forest department and local fishermen from the area to push the whale back into the sea, it went in vain
Vasudevan added that this was one of the biggest rescues in India. “After the beaching and death of a whale at Juhu, Mumbai and the safe rescue earlier this year from Ratnagiri itself, the sheer size of the mammal makes this the biggest rescue of beached mammal in history.”
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) falls under the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1986.