Yet another whale has found itself beached in south Trinidad.
However, despite last week’s appeal by the T&T Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TTMMSN) not to touch the stranded mammals, Granville residents engaged in a dramatic rescue mission early yesterday.
Fisherman Tony Bedassie said he was walking along the beach when he saw the whale foundering near the shore.
“We normally go for a swim around 5.30 am and while walking on the shore we saw the animal halfway buried in the sand. I had a tarpaulin in the van and tried to load it onto the tarpaulin and take it back into the water,” he said.
“We held it there and it seemed to have recovered but 20 minutes later it came back on the shore and it beached once again. We took it back out again and I massaged it because it looked tired. I stayed there with it for half an hour until it started to duck its snout. Then it swam a good distance out and I thought it was well but it turned back and came onto the shore again,” Bedassie said.
By then word had spread throughout the village and Bedassie said many others came to the beach. They contacted the Zoological Society, T&T Coast Guard, Wildlife Division, police, Forestry Division but Beddassie said all of the various authorities had different advice to give.
He said the best advice he got was from an official from the Zoological Society who advised them to take it on a boat further out to sea and release it.
Bedassie said they loaded the mammal onto the boat and sped four miles into the open ocean where they released the animal.
He said he was relieved when the mammal swam away.
Bedassie said he had no regrets over rescuing the whale.
“If we had left it there it would have been a corpse on the sand. At least this way we tried to save it,” he added.
Told that a necropsy had found the previous beached whales had a parasite which caused their death,” Bedassie said he had heard of that.
Councillor for the area Shankar Teelucksingh said the residents had good intentions.
“It looked as if the whale got caught in the shallow waters. The whale was attempting to go back out into the open water but the currents were bringing him in,” Teelucksingh said.
Another resident who assisted in the whale rescue said most of them did not know that the whale was possibly sick.
This was the sixth whale to have been beached within a week.
A necropsy was done on the whale’s carcass by Professor Phillips-Savage and veterinary pathologist Dr Rod Suepaul who found that the stranded mammal was “unable to maintain its equilibrium on reflotation as a result of a severe parasitic meningitis affecting multiple areas of the animal’s cerebellum (the portion of the brain responsible for posture, balance, motor control and coordination).”
The TTMMSN said, “ Significant parasitism was also observed to be associated with the urogenital tract, where numerous large parasitic cysts were found in to be attached to the reproductive organs. The animal also had multiple stomach ulcers and numerous parasitic nodules of varying sizes throughout the stomach wall. No food was present in the stomach or intestines. Samples of multiple organs were taken for further analysis, including, brain, kidney, liver, spleen, reproductive organs, acoustic fat, blubber, muscle, lung, heart, among others.”
The network added marine mammals that wash ashore, especially those that wash ashore singly, are typically ill and maybe harbouring infectious organisms that may have the potential to be detrimental to humans and other animals.