Published On: Fri, Mar 6th, 2015

Rare Pygmy Sperm Whale caught by Karachi fishermen dies


Staff Report

KARACHI: A Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) that was caught by fishermen on Wednesday in the Arabian Sea about 120 nautical southwest of Karachi died on the boat when hauled.
In a statement, issued on Friday by World Wildlife Fund for Nature—WWF-Pakistan’s Karachi office, claimed that the dead corpse was later discarded.

It was one of the smallest whales which is found at the outer continental shelf and considered to be very rare. Known from Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, this species is mostly observed through stranding on the beaches from different parts of the world.

Saeed Zaman, captain of fishing boat Al-Fahim while operating off the shelf area, caught the pygmy sperm whale in gillnet placed for catching tuna. The whale was enmeshed in the net and died when haul on the boat. After disentanglement, WWF-Pakistan’s observer on board recoded its length which was estimated to be 8.2 feet and weighing about 400kg.

Previously there were two unconfirmed records of occurrence of this whale in Pakistan based on strandings at Sonmiani beach in December 1985 and dubious observations of a small school off Churna Island. Rab Nawaz, Director, WWF-Pakistan pointed out that new records of whales and dolphins have been made through voluntary Observer Programme that was initiated by WWF-Pakistan. Last month another extremely rare Longman’s beaked whale was reported by WWF-Pakistan which was successfully released in the sea.

Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF–Pakistan said whales and dolphins are sensitive animals and in most cases when entangled in fishing nets died immediately, as they cannot come to surface for breathing.

He said the Pygmy sperm whale feeds on deep water squids and crabs. WWF-Pakistan has initiated an awareness programme for release of megafauna in the fishing nets. This awareness has already resulted in safe release of 15 whale sharks, three mobulids, two sunfish and one Longman’s beaked whale during past six months.

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