Malaysia: Programmes to teach public ways to save whales and marine life

The Star 18 Feb 16;

BATU PAHAT: Johor Fisheries Department will conduct programmes soon to educate the public, especially the fishermen, on ways to save marine life.

Citing the case in which a whale was found beached at Pantai Rambah in Pontian, state director Munir Mohd Nawi said:

“The brave effort of those men, especially the fishermen, was quite commendable but their actions might have added more stress to the whale.”

“Various studies and research conducted on whale behaviour have found that these gentle mammals would beach itself when it is sick or dying despite attempts to push it back into the open sea,” he said.

The Sei Whale, the third largest after Blue Whale and Fin Whale, was spotted at Pantai Rambah on Monday.

It was pulled back to the sea by a group of fishermen and it swam 90 nautical miles before it was found dead at Sungai Sarang Buaya.

Munir, who was overseeing the post-mortem of the carcass at the department’s jetty here, also pointed out that there are 15 whale subspecies that use Malaysian waters, including in Sabah and Sarawak, as part of its migratory route.

Besides whales, he said other marine life forms that could be found in local waters here also included dolphins as well as dugongs that are on the endangered list.

“The department plans to educate the public and special attention will be given to the fishermen as we have about 300 of them throughout Johor as part of our volunteers.”

“We will give them information on how to act when they spot a beached whale or other marine life forms,” he said.

On the autopsy on the whale, he said that the bones would remain in Johor after investigations were completed.

“We want to know the cause of its death, whether it was having illnesses or had accidentally eaten garbage floating in the ocean.”

“Once completed, the bones together with other marine life that the department has collected over the last few years will be placed at our temporary gallery in the Fisheries Department Complex at Tampoi in Johor Baru.”

“The government has agreed to construct a marine gallery building to provide information to the public and we are in the midst of identifying the land for its location,” he said.

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