The Jakarta Post
Local fishermen found 11 pilot whales stranded on Lie Jaka and Bekel beaches in Ledeunu subdistrict, Sabu Raijua regency, East Nusa Tenggara, on Thursday morning.
Only one made its way to the open sea while the other 10 died.
“A fisherman identified as Riwu Willa found five whales at first while looking for seaweed in Lie Jaka Beach. Other fishermen then found another six around a dock in Bekel Beach,” Sabu Raijua Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Jack Seubelan said on Thursday.
He added that the locals had tried to push the whales into the sea but only managed to save one.
Authorities later buried the dead whales at the beach, but only after locals had cut up four of them and distributed the meat. The burial was done on Thursday by residents who were guided by officials of the Kupang Water Conservation Area Agency (BKKPN) by phone as they could not arrive at the beach until the next day.
Kupang BKKPN head Ikram Sangadji said the short-finned pilot whale usually lived in pods of up to 100 whales that have strong social bonds.
“There’s a possibility that more whales will get stranded.”
Local authorities are still investigating how the whales became beached, but Ikram suspected that they had been following the current that carried plankton to the coastal area.
“They were probably too busy eating and did not realize the tide was receding, hindering them from returning to the deep sea. We found scratches on their bodies, which they likely got from the coral reef while trying to swim back into the sea,” said Ikram.
A short-finned pilot whale has an average size of 2 to 7 meters. While the species is categorized under Data Deficient in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list, the whale is protected under the 2018 Environment and Forestry Ministerial Regulation.
According to the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Sawu Sea around Sabu Raijua is located within the whale’s migration route.
The beaching occurred only a week after a dead blue whale found stranded and decaying on Na Batu Kepala Beach in Kupang Bay. (aly)