India: Beached in Goa

On July 2 this year, two olive ridley turtles were found entangled in fishing nets at Cavelossim, a village in south Goa. “I was there on duty at the time,” recalled Shankar Parekar, a lifeguard. “I called more guards for help and using a pair of scissors and a knife, we cut the nets. Once the forest department’s permission came through, we released the turtles back in the water,” he said.

In September this year, according to a news report, a sperm whale calf was found washed ashore on Bimbvel beach, in central Goa, near the airport. It was not known whether the whale, a deep-water species, washed up ashore dead or surfaced due to injuries and died. The forest department, with the help of the Navy (the beach is under Naval jurisdiction) and the local panchayat, buried the carcass.

India’s coastal waters have an abundance of marine wildlife. There are at least 30 species of marine mammals and five species of marine turtles swimming in the seas, apart from marine snakes and other wildlife. Every year, several marine mammals (whales, dolphins, porpoises and dugongs), marine turtles and marine snakes get stranded on beaches all over the world, including India. They may be stranded alive or dead, alone or in groups (known as mass strandings).

The marine wildlife stranding network response system in India is distributed across the country’s nine coastal states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal), two coastal union territories (Daman and Diu and Puducherry) and two island territories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Bay of Bengal) and Lakshadweep Islands (Arabian Sea).

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