Malaysia: Call for study on whale-dolphin deaths in Malaysia

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 17 Feb 16;

JOHOR BARU: There have been 11 cases of beached whales and dolphins in Malaysia’s coastal areas in the past three months and a non-governmental organisation has called on the Government to conduct proper studies to save these animals.

MareCet founder and chairperson Dr Louisa Ponnampalam said marine research in Malaysia was quite new compared to that in Western countries which have the capabilities and financial resources to conduct such studies.

She pointed out that the recent case of a whale that beached itself at Sungai Sarang Buaya, near Batu Pahat, was a good wake-up call for the Government to initiate research on such mammals.

There are 26 species of marine life that can be found in Malaysian waters, from whales to dolphins and even dugong, but due to financial constraints with logistics issues, not many organisations are able to conduct proper research on these animals.

“Whale sightings in Malaysian waters, in particular at Langkawi and Kudat, are quite the norm but due to public misconceptions about these gentle creatures, there is not enough awareness,” she said.

Dr Louisa said the time was right for the Government to initiate a dedicated study on whales, which would help shed light on the presence of the animal in our waters.

She said the whale that beached itself in Pantai Rambah on Feb 8 might not be a Sei Whale as thought but a Bryde Whale, which is a species that was typically found in warm, tropical waters.

“Proper research involving stakeholders will help us understand these whales and give us important knowledge on marine conservation which will help us sustain all life in our waters,” she said.

It was reported that the whale on Pantai Rambah was towed out to deep water by fishermen but the 15-tonne mammal was found dead in Batu Pahat about a day later.

A post-mortem found pieces of plastic rubbish in the whale’s stomach, badly damaged internal organs and a parasite in the carcass.

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