“The range forest officer had visited the site on Monday. Why weren’t higher-ups alerted immediately?” said an activist. Marine experts say whales usually die within a few hours if they are out of water: Once a whale is beached, it faces challenges such as dehydration, overheating, and pressure on internal organs, which leads to a decline in health and eventual death. These factors also determined the fate of the Ganpatipule calf, which was on land for over 35 hours, experts say.
On Monday morning, local environmentalist Arti Kulkarni put out social media posts on the stranded calf. On Tuesday, noted environmentalist Debi Goenka saw Kulkarni’s posts and got in touch with principal chief conservator of forests S Tembhurnikar and principal secretary of the revenue and forests department V Reddy. Tembhurnikar set a formal rescue operation in motion. But all efforts, including by a Coast Guard tugboat and a Navy helicopter failed. “The mammal weighed five tons,” said V Ben Clement, additional principal chief conservator of forests, Western Regional Wildlife, Mumbai.
Learning of the whale, BNHS chief Praveen Pardeshi got in touch with the firm JSW, which had a trawler near the site. The animal was strapped and when the tide rose, it was gradually pulled into the sea. It was 9.30 pm on Tuesday. Clement said the whale before its rescue, said it had been on land for over 35 hours.
“Whales move in groups called pods. The reasons for a member to drift could vary. It could be tidal dynamics, illness or disorienting sonar interference from submarines,” he said. On Wednesday evening, forest officials, who monitored the site where the calf had been released (7-8 nautical miles from shore), said that the calf was dead. “We are now waiting for the next high tide, when the carcass will wash ashore,” said Clement gloomily.