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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Whale washed ashore in Tuticorin

The carcass of a whale washed ashore at Veppalodai coast near here on Sunday evening, was identified as a `Sperm Whale' by a team of scientists from the Fisheries College and Research Institute (FCRI) on April 16th.

The study by C. B. T. Rajagopalasamy and N. Jayakumar, professors at FCRI, revealed that the whale had died at least four days ago and hence the species was identified using external characteristics.

V. K. Venkataramani, Dean, FCRI, said the whale belonging to the family of `Physeteridae' had a length of 10 metres and weighed 20 tonnes.

The entire functional teeth, numbering 22 pairs, were in the lower jaw, and the upper jaw has sockets to fit in those teeth.

Regarding the cause of death, Dr. Venkataramani said that the whale might have entered the inshore waters here abundant in juvenile fishes such as sardines, anchovies and cuttle fish.

"Since its body was damaged extensively, there was a possibility of collision with a ship or a boat and getting stranded in the inshore waters which is not deep," he said.

According to him, remote sensing methods should be applied to locate and save the whales, which get stranded in the Gulf of Mannar, since it is an endangered species.

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