Dolphin conservation project planned off Mangaluru coast
The Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) has proposed a dolphin conservation programme off the Mangaluru coast, which may take off in future. The Mangaluru Division of the Forest Department has submitted a five-year plan for dolphin conservation with major emphasis on survey and demarcation of the area, to begin with. There have been no reports of dolphins being sighted in the region in recent times, but several carcasses of dolphins have washed ashore.
Last year, at least six Indian Humpback dolphins washed up on beaches near Suratkal, which has triggered hopes of presence of the marine species which is protected under Scheduled 1 of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mangaluru division, K Karikalan, said only on the basis of carcasses, they cannot conclude the presence of dolphins off the Mangaluru coast as the dead ones may have been washed ashore here from somewhere else.
So they have proposed a survey involving experts from Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Fisheries College, Indian Coast Guard and others, to check if they are present here and demarcate the area. The survey is proposed to be carried out in the sea between Mulky and Ullal and `1 crore has been sought for the exercise.
If there are positive results, then it may lead to conservation initiatives like regulation on fishing, container movement in that area, besides measures to check pollution. Though the exact cause of death of many dolphins washed ashore here could not be ascertained, sea pollution is said to be a major reason. Karikalan said the survey might help get more information than just dolphins, as Olive ridley turtles and Blue Whale Sharks were also found washed ashore dead here.
The Forest Department has also proposed to conduct general awareness training for fishermen to spare dolphins and other protected species in case they are caught. In the absence of SOPs for protected marine species, unlike wildlife animals, the department is finding it difficult to carry out post-mortem and other procedures.