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Whale shark beached at Odisha’s Sunapur dies

The whale shark weighed around 2,000 kilogrammes.

The whale shark weighed around 2,000 kilogrammes.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Local fishermen tried to save it by pushing it back to the sea

A 14.9 ft.-long whale shark, washed to the coast near Sunapur in Odisha’s Ganjam district, died despite attempts by fishermen to save it.

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According to forest officials, local fishermen found the large mammal alive at the Sunapur beach on Sunday, and pushed it back into the sea. But late on Sunday evening, it was again beached by the high tide, and died.

Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak said the Forest Department seized the carcass for an autopsy. A surgeon from the Veterinary Hospital, Chikiti, conducted the autopsy at the Sunapur coast on Monday. The carcass was thereafter buried by deploying a crane to avoid contamination of the beach by its decomposition.

The whale shark weighed around 2,000 kilogrammes. The autopsy findings suggest it had no food in its stomach and could have been ailing, causing it to be swept in from the deep sea to the coast during high tide.

On February 19, a whale shark was found by fishermen near the Gopalpur coast, but they were able to push it back into deep waters.

‘Annual visitors’

Zoologist and cetacean expert Dr. Muntaz Khan said whale sharks were annual visitors to the Odisha coast, usually from January to March. In the past, carcasses of whale sharks have been found near Gopalpur, the mouth of the Rushikulya and Devi rivers, the Chilika lake coast, and along Bhitarkanika and Balasore.

Whale sharks are harmless, slow-moving mammals that feed on phytoplanktons, micro-algae and small sea animals. They have many rows of teeth that play no role in feeding. They suck water and close their mouth to expel the water through their gills. During this ‘filter feeding’ process, they also suck up their food.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:48:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/whale-shark-beached-at-odishas-sunapur-dies/article30964582.ece

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