Fishermen take part in the 10-hour operation to haul back the 25-foot mammal

A four-tonne blue whale washed up in Mannavaram backwaters here was hauled back into the open waters in a 10-hour long operation on Saturday.

The 25-foot-long male whale was first spotted by fishermen stranded in the marshy backwaters six km off Siruthalaikadu and about 13 km to the southwest of Kodiakadu, here in Vedaranyam.

A team led by District Forest Officer Soundarapandian, with the help of around 40 fishermen had to make a prolonged effort to haul back the whale that was stuck in the marshy waters.

It was hauled back manually enabling the mammal to float through the marsh up to the channel, Chellakanni, that branches off from the lagoon. Great care was taken to ensure that it suffered no injuries.

According to information from local fishermen, the whale is reported to have floated back towards the swamp again late evening.

If the whale does not move back into the open waters during the high tide of the night, a renewed rescue effort is slated to be taken up on Sunday.

Presumed to be two years old, it is not clear how it got stranded, says Mr.Soundarapandian.

“It needs to be observed for another 24 hours along the coast here to see if it gets stranded again.”

According to P.V.R.Vivek, a wildlife photographer, who also alerted the Forest department, and shared with The Hindu the first pictures of the mammal, it is a Bryde’s Whale.

A similar whale was washed up in the swamp in 2002. It was rescued and put back in the sea in an operation that lasted more than a day, he says.

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