Saturday, 17 February 2018

Spinner Dolphin washed ashore at Sadras Kuppam on 15th February 2018

A dead dolphin was found at Sadras Kuppam at around 6:00 am by Sea Turtle Protection Force Members of TREE Foundation, R. Devadas and G. Sundaram, during their early morning sea turtle nesting patrolling. They informed Dr. Supraja Dharini, TREE Foundation Chairperson and G. Ezhumalai of the Marine Mammal Stranding and Rescue team from TREE Foundation about a dolphin found stranded. It was a slender dolphin, with an extremely long, thin beak. Also, the head was very slender at the apex of the melon. The dorsal fin ranged from slightly falcate to erect and triangular. It had dark eye-to-flipper stripes and dark lips and beak tips which were some of the features that confirmed it was a Spinner dolphin (Stenellalongirostris) Like most of its kind it had a three- part colour pattern (dark grey cape, light grey sides, and white belly). There were 40 to 50 pairs of very fine, pointed teeth in each jaw, more than in almost any other cetacean species. 

The stranded dolphin was 180 cm long and weighed over 30 kilograms. The tail of the dolphin was measured around 35cm wide. The dorsal fin of the dolphin was 23 cm long and pectoral fins were 29 cm long. The beak or rostrum of the dolphin was 28 cm long. The dolphin fins and tail were damaged. The cause of death was identified as entanglement in fishing net and the injuries in the abdomen area were very deep.  The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) is a small dolphin found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is a member of the family Delphinidae of toothed whales. The numbers of these dolphins have been reduced significantly in the last few decades by fishing practice. Catches of Spinner dolphins also occur frequently and up to 15,000 are killed each year in gillnets and by hand-harpooning. 

After a full external examination the dolphin was buried 50 metres above the high tide line by the Sea Turtle Protection Force Members of TREE Foundation. It was buried as the carcass would attract jackals and crows, and as a sign of respect for the mammals. TREE Foundation has been recording cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises) stranding and this is the first dolphin stranded along our coast with around 200 sea turtles stranding from the start of this year. Helpful citizens are requested to contact 94440 52242 when they see any stranded marine animals along the coast. For any more enquiries, contact TREE Foundation at 94443 06411 ortreerootsandshoots@gmail.com

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