Several Pilot Whales have died after a mass stranding on the coast of Probolinggo, East Java on June 15.
Photo: Reef Check Indonesia/Indra
Indonesia: Team needed to monitor Whales in East Java waters
By Wahyoe Boediwardhana, 17th June 2016;
Calls are mounting for the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry to cooperate with local authorities in East Java and set up a special team to monitor the movement of Whales entering East Java waters.
The team would be tasked with monitoring the sea mammals and keeping them out of shallow waters as they pass Java during their annual migration from Australian waters to eastern Indonesian waters.
The calls were made by ProFauna founder Rosek Nursahid following the stranding of 32 Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in the village of Randupitu in Probolinggo regency, some 106 kilometers east of Surabaya, since Wednesday afternoon.
“It [stranding of Whales] happens frequently. Experts are still studying the phenomenon. One plausible reason is that these Whales were pursuing food sources, which are found in abundance in shallow waters. They were then swept ashore by the current and failed to return to the deep water,” Rosek said on Thursday.
The special team should monitor and drive the pod of Whales back to deep waters, he said, adding that the animals could easily die if they did not find their way back to deep waters. The migration of Pilot Whales from Australia to eastern Indonesia occurs between April and August.
Pilot whales and Dolphins from Australia pass through waters of Probolinggo and Situbondo every year on their way to the warmer waters around Bali, Lombok and eastern Indonesia.
The head of the East Java office of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Ayu Dewi Utari, told The Jakarta Post that, as of 1 p.m. on Thursday, nine of the 32 Whales had died from a lack of oxygen.
“Seven of the Whales were found dead at the location [Randupitu], while the other two were discovered near Bentar Beach, some 5 kilometers to the west from the initial site where the whales were found stranded,” Ayu said.
Six of the 32 Whales were calves measuring around 4 meters in length. The rest were adult Whales, which are around 6 meters long. “Currently, BKSDA officials, with the help of volunteers and local fishermen, are chasing the whales away to deep waters. We have been waiting for high tide in order to push them away. Last night’s high tide was not helpful enough, because darkness and extreme waves prevented us from carrying out the task,” said Ayu.
A team of veterinarians from Airlangga University has arrived at the site to oversee the evacuation process and conduct an autopsy on two of the dead Whales to establish the cause of their death.