A group of marine biologists have been scouring the waters from Vijaydurg to Redi, near the Goa coast, since May 2014, up to 2.25 km offshore for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. The survey is for a study on behalf of the Indian government and United Nations Development Programme.
However, two weeks ago, they were in for a surprise after spotting a Byrde’s whale just 600 meters off the coast. This is not the first time that the team has greeted the Byrde’s whales. In fact, there have been four sightings at the depth of 15 meters on April 11, 16, 30 and May 6, near Achra, Tarkarli, Talashil and Sarjekot respectively.
But the biggest find of them all, which left the researchers extremely excited, was the sighting of a pair of blue whales on March 28th, near Kunkeshwar, 2.7 km offshore at a depth of 16 metres. The last spotted blue whale in these water was in 1914 when one had washed up on the shore, as told by N Vasudevan, Maharshtra’s chief Conservator of Forest, Mangrove Cell.
Photo for representational purpose only. Source: Sanctuarycruises
The pair included a mother and a calf. The researchers spotted the mother first and then the calf. They clicked plenty of pictures but refrained from approaching them since the mother could be very protective of her calf. Though blue whales usually prefer open oceans , they do venture near the shores for food. They can either be residents or migratory. There are less than 10,000 blue whales in the world and such a sighting, especially of a mother and calf, is extraordinary.
The research team consisted of Mihir Sule, Isha Bopardikar, Dipani Sutaria and Vardhan Patankar and Ketki Jog. The team said that they need to do further research to determine what is making the whales to come near the shores.