KARACHI – After having scared users on digital platforms through a game named after it, a giant Blue Whale physically made an entry into Pakistani waters, with her calf for the first time on Monday.
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WWF-Pakistan’s trained skipper Saeed Zaman reported the rare emergence of fish and her baby off Churna Island, near the coast of Karachi while estimating the length of mother to be around 17 meters. The size of her calf, however, could not be assessed as it did not surface much.
The Technical Adviser of the federation, Moazzam Khan termed the first live record of a blue whale sighting and that too with a calf ‘remarkable’ suggesting the indication of the diverse marine life along the coast of Pakistan.
He attributed the recent increase in the sighting of whales to the effective monitoring of WWF-Pakistan’s crew based observer programme in which more than 100 fishermen, mainly skippers, have been trained to record sightings of megafauna – whales, dolphins, whale sharks, Mobula rays, turtles and sunfish. The programme also inculcated basic knowledge among participants to ensure the safe release of such animals in case of any entanglement.
“Through this programme, trained fishermen have so far released 60 whale sharks, 45 Mobulas, 25 sunfish, 6 dolphins, one finless porpoise, 5 whales, 25 sea snakes, 5 masked boobies (seabirds) and thousands of marine turtles,” he claimed.
Senior director programmes of wildlife watchdog Rab Nawaz also lavished praise on fishermen for capturing the precious moments.
The official highlighted that WWF-Pakistan was working with NGOs, Ministry of Climate Change and Forest and Wildlife Department of the Government of Balochistan to declare Churna Island as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Although Blue Whales are commonly found in the Arabian sea but the emergence of live mammal in Pakistani waters is of extraordinary importance.
A number of skeletal remains and beached blue whales were reported from Pakistani waters in past. The last such dead specimen was observed at Khuddi Creek along the coast of Sindh in August 2014.
Although 47 sightings of baleen whales have been reported from the coast of Pakistan last year, none of them could be attributed to the Blue Whale. The glimpse of Blue Whale follows recording of first live pair of sperm whales on the coast of Balochistan on September 10.
The marine mammal is considered to be the largest animal to have ever existed on this planet with a recorded length of 30 metres.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, Blue Whale is endangered species although the Global population of this fish is estimated to be between 10,000 and 25,000.
A blue whale typically gives birth once every two to three years after a gestation period of 10 to 12 months. The calf weighs about 2.5 tonnes and is usually around 7 metres in length.
Contrary to the mammoth physique, a blue whale’s diet includes tiny shrimplike animals called krill or pelagic shrimp, abundant in the Arabian Sea.
Experts have gauged the food of Blue Whales during certain times of the year, to be around 4 tonnes of krill a day.