Featured Image Credit: Hindustan Times
By Sarah Sharkey
Six animals were found dead in six days on beaches in Mumbai, India. Let’s repeat that: six animals in six days.
Not surprisingly, this series of deaths has led to a rally among environmentalists to find out what happened. Three Olive Ridley turtles carcasses where found on the beaches of Vasai and Uttan. An Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin was found dead in Vasai. And most recently, the carcasses of an Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin and an Olive Ridley turtle were found dead on Juhu and Versova.
This string of deaths contributes to a death toll of 10 in the first four months of 2017. Nitin Walmiki, zoologist and former member of the National Institute of Oceanography, said that according to his research most ocean animal deaths occur in the summer months. He mentioned that higher global temperatures are causing an increase in ocean temperatures; this forces the marine animals to search for cooler habitat. This cooler habitat is elusive because the deeper waters are cooler but the waves are often too much for these animals to handle.
Mr. Vasudevan, principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, hopes that more research into this topic soon. “The rise in marine mammal and reptile deaths is worrying. We are looking into the possiblilty of carrying out a study under our Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation foundation soon.” He points out that although climate change could be the cause of these deaths, more research will need to done to understand how this is happening. For now, the scientists are collecting samples from the carcasses for future studies.
Another possible explanation is the impact of oil firms. Fishermen have made official complaints alleging that the oil companies are conducting seismic tests to find oil and natural gas. The tests involve the use of sonic cannons that shoot air into the ocean floor which creates sound waves that can be turned into maps of oil reserves. These kinds of tests would definitely impact the sea life in the area.
Hopefully researchers will soon be able to determine the cause of the increased deaths. Once we know why this is happening, we can do our best to protect the animals in the future.