Multiple short-finned pilot whales were found stranded on a remote beach in Menia village in Sabu Raijua, East Nusa Tenggara. A total of seventeen whales were found, but unfortunately only 10 survived, Mongabay reports.
Officials from Kupang’s agency of Nature & Conservancy led rescue efforts along with local residents; however low water level impeded rescue efforts. It was also reported that most of the whales have been out of the water for too long. Their weakened states were further aggravated when local residents were reportedly touching and pushing at the whales which caused the creatures’ further stress, leading to death.
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries commented on the incident trough its official Facebook page stating that the stranding was caused by the aerial condition of the waters around Sabu Island. The waters are dominated by fringing reefs with a wide intertidal zone. The intertidal zone can also be referred as the seashore; it is the area where the ocean meets the land. The group of whales had entered the area during high tide, and had difficulties swimming back to the deep ocean during low tide, leaving them stranded.
Ganef Wurgiyanto, the head of East Nusa Tenggara’s Agency of Marine Affairs and Fisheries said that the whales were most likely hunting for small fish near the island’s shores before being trapped by the low tide.
Officials proceeded to bury the dead whales in a selected location, honouring the mammals with a traditional sacred ritual headed by the local villagers.
Photo source: The Official Facebook Page of Kementrian Kelautan dan Perikanan RI