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Killer whale sighted again off Lakshadweep

Killer whale photographed by marine mammal research scientists off Kavaratti, Lakshadweep.   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Following up on the sighting of a group of three killer whales (orca) on the eastern side of Kadmat island in Lakshadweep in November last year, marine scientists, working through a network of fishers, recorded seeing an orca on October 12 off Kavaratti while a pair of them were sighted around the island on October 22.

The Marine Mammals Research team was able to see and take videos and pictures of at least the male in the pair, said Ahmed Amirsha, senior project officer in the department of environment and forests in Kavaratti.

“The sightings in Lakshadweep are very important for understanding killer whales in the larger Arabian Sea and such sightings are rare, as very little is known about killer whale occurrence, seasonal movements, habitat and prey preferences, and behaviour in the northern Indian Ocean,” he said. Additionally, such records highlight the rich whale and dolphin biodiversity in Lakshadweep waters. The team has recorded 879 live sightings and 15 dead strandings of marine mammals over the past two-and-a-half years.

While most killer whale populations in other regions show high site fidelity and residence rates, resident populations are yet to be identified in the northern Indian Ocean, Dr. Amirsha said. Given their highly social and curious behaviour, orcas often approach fishing vessels to assess if there is any fish in the net, or just to observe people on the vessel. In the wild, there are no instances of killer whales fatally attacking humans, he said.

Orcas belong to a highly evolved group of toothed whales under the suborder Cetacean and dolphin family and are widely distributed in temperate and tropical waters. They have long life spans and are highly social, feeding cooperatively, and with complex vocal behaviours.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 2:08:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/killer-whale-sighted-again-off-lakshadweep/article37179396.ece

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