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: Dead Pilot Whales buried in mass grave in East Java
18th June 2016;

Local people in a village in Probolinggo, East Java, held a traditional funeral for 12 Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) on Friday that died after being beached on the coast.

Not only were the tails of the Whales covered in shrouds, locals also put up a gravestone and spread flowers on to the mass grave. Local people also chanted tahlil (prayers for the dead) for seven days in accordance with Javanese tradition.

The treatment was to uphold an ancient tradition passed down for generations, Pesisir village chief of Probolinggo Sanemo said on Friday as reported by kompas.com. Burying Whales or Sharks like humans had long been the tradition of the village, he added.

The 12 Short-finned Pilot Whales were buried in one 30-square-meter hole not too far from the location where they were stranded.

Probolinggo Maritime and Fisheries Agency used an excavator to move the dead Whales to the grave. Hundreds of people came to witness the burial process.

At least 32 Pilot Whales came ashore in the Probolinggo coast on Wednesday. Those that survived have been returned back to the sea.

Source: Jakarta Post

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.

Source: Jakarta Post

  1. Cast ashore – East Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) officials work with one of the Short-finned Pilot Whales on Wednesday.
  2. Trapped – Several Short-finned Pilot Whales stuck in shallow waters in Probolinggo, East Java, on Wednesday.

Photos: BKSDA East Java

Indonesia: Low oxygen levels, salinity cause of beached Pilot Whales
By Wahyoe Boediwardhana, 17th June 2016;

Decreased oxygen levels and water salinity are thought to be among the causes that led dozens of Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) to wash up on a beach in Randupitu village, Gending district, Probolinggo regency, East Java, on Wednesday.

Data from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Juanda, Surabaya, reveals that it was likely that strong currents in the northern Java Sea had carried the Pilot Whales ashore.

According to the data, strong winds of more than 28 knots caused high seas with 2 to 3.5 meter waves. The high waves also caused oxygen level decreases deep below the surface and lowered water salinity, which was accompanied with a sea level rise.

The BMKG added that these three elements had led deep water fish to migrate to the surface, leading many of them to become stuck in shallow waters.

As reported earlier, 32 Pilot Whales were found on the beach in Randupitu village, around 106 kilometers east of Surabaya on Wednesday.

Head of the East Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) Ayu Dewi Utari said that as of noon on Thursday, nine of the Pilot Whales had died due to lack of oxygen. Seven Whales were found dead on the Randupitu village beach while two others were found at Bentar beach, around 5 kilometers west of the location where the pod of Pilot Whales were first found, said Ayu.

ProFauna Indonesia activist Rosek Nursahid said the reason the Whales had become beached was not yet known.

However, he added that Whales generally became trapped in shallow waters for one of four reasons.

The most possible reason is, the group of Whales were foraging for food, which had accumulated in the shallow water. They were then carried by strong currents onto the beach and then could not return to the deep sea, said Rosek.

A team of veterinarians from the University of Airlangga, Surabaya, have been dispatched to remove the dead Whales and perform an autopsy to reveal the cause of their deaths.

Source: Jakarta Post

I’m not sure how low dissolved oxygen in the water would affect air-breathing mammals, unless it means that the this pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales got stranded while pursuing their usual pelagic prey, which had been forced into shallow coastal waters close to shore.

  1. Confirmed: Short-finned Pilot Whales
  2. Yesterday
  3. JAAN, AnimalsIndonesia, Centre for Orangutan Protection, and Airlangga vets investigating
  4. Morphometric and external examination before necropsy
  5. Necropsy ongoing
  6. Two volunteers measuring Whale total length.
  7. Burial process.

Photos: Benvika, Rifqi Ajier, Lubis KKHL (MMAF)

15th June 2016, 19:53

STRANDING ALERT!!!

A total of at least 29 Whales (possibly Pilots, possibly more than 30) are currently stranded at Desa Randupitu, Kecamatan Gending, Kabupaten Probolinggo: 23 mature individuals of 4 meters long and 6 calves or juveniles of 2 m long. Please spread news. BPSPL Denpasar are coordinating the rescue effort. News by Rifqi Ajier, Jakarta Animal Aid Network

16th June 2016, 06:31

Three Pilots were refloated back to sea up to last night. Two individuals positive dead. More photos soon. Team are discussing next steps with incoming tides

16th June 2016, 07:54

Last update this morning… four additional Pilots found in mangrove area; three of them positive dead. The team are trying to release the one individual. That brings it to total 3 released, 5 dead, 1 still on rescue effort.

16th June 2016, 11:45

Rescue wrap up: 29 Pilots stranded, 7 dead, 4 refloated back to sea by rescuers, 18 returned to the sea on their own. Field team is now preparing necropsy. News from Rifqi Ajier JAAN.

16th June 2016, 12:34

They found more Pilot Whale carcasses at the adjacent Bentar and Gending beaches. Total 32 stranded, 10-11 died (for the whole event). Exact dead count TBA.

16th June 2016, 16:49

Necropsy in still ongoing. Just to reiterate that BPSPL Denpasar is the coordinator of this rescue effort. A team from the central MMAF (Ministry of Marine and Fisheries Affairs) in Jakarta has arrived on site. A scientist from LIPI (Indonesia’s scientific institute) is arriving in an hour. Necropsy is led by Arie DVM from Udayana Uni, aided by vets from Airlangga Uni and Gajah Mada Uni.

16th June 2016, 20:18

Two Pilot Whales were seen near shore by two local fishers just now. Amank and Rifqi Ajier from JAAN are checking the scene again. It has been advised to just conduct observation without herding, for the two Whales might just be saying goodbye to the deceased, as has been observed during a Pilot Whale mass stranding in Banyuwangi East Java on 22 May 2004 (database ID 68).

17th June 2016, 12:44

From Rifqi Ajier at 10:35 am local time: “Local fishers reported two more stranded Pilot Whales found last night. This morning, the team combed the area but found no carcasses. Possibly they have moved due to high tide. A necropsy is done this morning, led by the R&D team of the MMAF and LIPI. Next is burying the carcasses and monitoring/combing the adjacent waters. At the moment, we have 10 dead Whales ready for burial.”

21st June 2016, 12:40

News from Sekar Mira (LIPI) and Rifqi Ajier (JAAN) has it that the death count is now 15 Pilot Whales. With total 32 Pilot Whales stranding (assuming the new deaths were part of the original group), it makes quite a high mortality rate with more than 50% animals dead. Still kudos to all BPSPL Denpasar-led team who have worked so hard during the Holy Month of Ramadhan to make the rescue and post mortem investigation happen.

Source: Whale Strandings Indonesia Facebook

30 Pilot Whales have become stranded in Probolinggo area.

Since 4 am the JAAN was on site striving to rescue the survivors. 20 of the Pilot Whales were succesfully returned to sea but sadly, 10 didnt make it.

This rescue operation was done in collaboration with BPSPL Denpasar, Satker Surabaya, Bidang 3 Jember BKSDA JATIM, DKP Probolinggo, Koramil Gending, PosAl Paiton, Veterinary Facility FKH Unair, COP & AnimalsIndonesia.

Pilot whales are often found in mass strandings, when one is in trouble, others try to help & also get themselves stranded. They have strong family bonds & will risk their lives striving to save their loved ones.

Source: Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) Facebook

At least 15 Pilot Whales have died after a mass stranding on the coast of Probolinggo, East Java, on June 15, 2016.
Photo: Reef Check Indonesia/Indra

Indonesia: Dozens of Whales stranded on East Java coast, 15 likely dead
16th June 2016;

Dozens of Pilot Whales have beached on the coast of East Java, discovered on Wednesday by residents in Probolinggo, East Java. The giant marine mammals are thought to have become stranded due to changes in the sea temperature.

The Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) were seen around the shore on Wednesday afternoon. Most managed to return to the sea but returned to shore as one had become stuck, leaving them all trapped by the sudden low tide.

Wahid, the Maritime Resources Management Office head, said at least 32 Pilot Whales had been found stranded. Seven of them were less than two meters in length and the local fishermen had tied them to prevent them getting washed further ashore.

“Approximately 25 Whales came ashore around the estuary, 15 of these Whales are not moving and are likely dead […] the colony may have been searching for cooler waters but got stranded,” he said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Wednesday night.

The local residents have taken the deceased Whales to land, through the creek, for burial. According to local tradition, the residents must hold a burial for dead Whales as they believe that Whales purposely come ashore to end their journey.

“What do you expect us to do? If they are still alive, we will surely help them return to deep sea. The dead ones, we must bury them,” said the Pesisir village chief Sanemo.

Source: Jakarta Post

Photo: Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru

Indonesia: 32 Pilot Whales stranded, 10 die after beaching themselves on East Java coast
16th June 2016;

At least ten out of the 32 Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) which were washed up on beaches near Probolinggo in East Java had died, authorities confirmed on Thursday (16/06).

Probolinggo Maritime and Fisheries Agency head Deddy Isfandi told Antara news agency 32 Whales had beached themselves on a beach near the village of Randu Pitu in the Gending subdistrict on Wednesday afternoon.

The Whales — found by local residents—were three to five meters in length.

“Ten of the beached Whales had died. They were found on beaches near Randu Pitu, Gending, Dringu and Bentar,” Deddy said.

The agency with the help of local residents tried to rescue the Whales by pushing them back into the ocean on Wednesday night, but some of the stranded Whales were too weak to swim out to sea and had drifted back to shallow waters by Thursday morning.

Marine biologists from Surabaya’s Airlangga University are in the area to work out why the Pilot Whales had ended up washed up on the beaches.

There is speculation that the Whales had beached themselves after they got disoriented by recent extreme weather changes.

“Once the scientists are done with their research, the dead Whales will be buried near the beach where they were stranded,” Deddy said, adding that Whales had rarely been seen in the oceans off Probolinggo.

Source: Jakarta Globe