Giant Blue Whale | Spotted Along Gaddani Coast

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KARACHI:  The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) lauded the efforts of local fishermen who recorded the live blue whale and shared its video with the organisation and media outlets after they recorded the giant blue whale around two kilometers off Gaddani coast, Balochistan while moving on the surface of the coastal waters on Monday morning.

According to local fishers, the same whale was seen along the Gaddani coast at around 4:40 pm. on Sunday, but could not be recorded on camera. This is the second record of a live sighting of a blue whale in Pakistani waters, a news release said.

Commenting on this sighting, Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor, WWF-Pakistan, said that the blue whale is the second most common whale, after the Arabian Sea humpback whale, found in Pakistani waters. There is a sizable population of blue whales in the Arabian Sea as local fishermen have been reporting several sightings of the animal for the last 15 years.

In September 2017, a gigantic mother blue whale with her calf was sighted off the Churna Island near Karachi coast. He said that WWF-Pakistan through its Observer Programme is building the capacity of local fishers to safely release the entangled whales, dolphins, turtles and other threatened marine species from fishing nets, film the sighting of endangered species and make efforts for the protection. Khan mentioned that the area from where blue whale is recorded is a part of the Churna- Kaio Island Complex Area of Interest and is adjacent to the North East Arabian Sea Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) declared by the Marine Mammal Protected Area Task Force.

He further pointed out that the Gaddani area has many physical barriers such as shipbreaking activities, Single Point Mooring (SPM), other reception facilities of the Coal Power plant, and the presence of some construction-related barges and tugs. He hoped that this blue whale would maneuver and find its way into the deep Arabian Sea.

Ghazi Sallahuddin, Regional Head, Sindh, and Balochistan, WWF-Pakistan, was of the view that whales face several challenges along their habitat range. The major threats to whales in Pakistani waters include entanglement in the fishing nets, ship strikes, water pollution, and climate change. He emphasized that as blue whales are migratory species, we need to promote new conservation approaches through enhancing cooperation from local to regional and international levels. Science-based and research organizations, civil society, states, and inter-governmental bodies should play their role to safeguard these whale species.

Whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. This animal is listed endangered on the IUCN Red List of Species, and there are around 10,000 to 25,000 specimens worldwide. Blue whale is the largest animal on the planet weighing as much as 200 tons. Its stomach can hold one ton of krill, and it needs to eat around four tons of krill each day.

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