Thursday June 20, 2024

Entangled Arabian Sea humpback whale safely released

By our correspondents
December 17, 2016

WWF-Pakistan trained fishermen successfully released a rare Arabian Sea humpback whale, which had entangled in a gillnet near Ghora Bari, off the coast of Sindh. 

Al-Mustafah fishing boat, captained by Nakhuda Sajan, cast its net to catch Indian mackerel during the night of December 12 in the Swatch area (Indus Canyon), about 140km south of Karachi. 

In the morning a giant Arabian Sea humpback whale, measuring approximately 10.5 metres was found entangled in the monofilament net. Sajan immediately radioed to other fishing vessels operating in the area for help.

The tuna vessel, Al-Jihad, captained by Saeed Badshah, a WWF-Pakistan trained fisherman, immediately rushed to the scene and safely released the whale. This was the first time that an Arabian Sea humpback whale was successfully released by fishermen in high seas.

On February 11, 2015, a Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus) was safely released by fishermen in offshore waters off Khobar Creek. 

In another case, this one on December 5, 2012, fishermen of Gunz, Balochistan safely released an Arabian Sea humpback whale entangled in a bottom sea gillnet.

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan, pointed out that there are now concrete evidences that the Arabian Sea humpback whale frequents Pakistani waters. 

Studies initiated by WWF-Pakistan revealed that during the last three months (October to date) a total of 43 Arabian Sea humpback whales have been sighted from Pakistani waters.

He also pointed out that a regional programme for monitoring of whales in the Northern Arabian Sea including Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Yemen and UAE has been planned with the aim to estimate the population of whales in the area. 

Rab Nawaz opined that there is a reasonably large population of whales in Pakistani waters, however, there is a need to study the distribution, abundance, biology and interaction with anthropogenic activities.

Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Whale and Dolphin Society, informed that the Arabian Sea humpback whale is possibly the world’s rarest animal and its population, which is restricted between Oman and India, is estimated to be less than 100.