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Phuket promotes marine tourism but the killings continue

Whale Latest Victim in Andaman Sea Catastrophe

Sunday, October 4, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis: Photo Album Above

A DEAD Bruda whale was brought to Phuket's Marine Biology Centre last night, latest tragic victim in a trail of pain and destruction among the Andaman's marine life.

The Bruda is a creature of great beauty, rarely seen or captured on film. Snatches of footage online show it to be a remarkable mammal, glistening as it glides by, distinguished by a slimmer body and larger fins.

The dead Bruda was brought to the centre from the southern province of Trang, where the creature became entangled in a fishing net, an official at the marine centre told Phuketwan today.

The whale was young, but already five metres long. It died after becoming trapped in netting close to the mouth of the Trang River and was brought to the marine biology centre by villagers. An autopsy was being conducted today.

Another death is not only a tragedy for the Bruda whale itself but also sad for Phuket, for the Andaman, for tourism and for the diving industry.

Dugongs, dolphins, turtles, and now a precious rare whale: the catalogue of destruction this monsoon season is a long one, indicating there has been no attention to relieve the cause of most of the suffering: fishing nets.

This week, one sharp-eyed part-time island diver spotted a supplement labeled Shark Cartilage in a Boots store on Phuket, and the international pharmaceutical retailer quickly announced that the product would be removed from the shelves in Thailand.

Shark finning is a shocking practice and one that has endangered sharks in many parts of the world.

But here in Phuket, the suffering continues. We've seen too many turtles forced ashore at the popular western beaches this monsoon season.

They are either washed up, dead, or missing a flipper, usually one of the large front ones. It's a sickening sight to see a creature as wonderful as a turtle in this condition.

So many turtles are being washed up that it no longer makes news. And the cause is almost always the same: fishing nets.

Every dive industry cleanup day produces fishing nets by the tonne.

Large marine creatures are either caught in trawls as boats actively seek schools of fish, or unlucky enough to become trapped in remnants of nets that have been discarded.

Turtles, dolphins, dugongs. And now, a Bruda whale . . . .

If the world has begun to understand the need to save sharks from extinction, perhaps it's time authorities along the Andaman coast acted to save the precious living treasures that sustain the diving industry.
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Comments

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Poor little thing.

Posted by LivinLOS on October 4, 2009 20:07

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What is the solution? Not that it will ever happen . . .

Posted by VFaye on October 5, 2009 12:30

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VFaye,
There are solutions. Organisations like mine, Fumunda Pty Ltd, have been working with researchers for the past ten years designing and manufacturing acoustic alarms or "Pingers" that alert cetaceans (Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises) to the presence of commercial fishing gear. Pingers are up to 95% effective in avoiding cetaceans from incidental entanglement (or Bycatch as it is known) in commercial gill nets. I will try to reach the author of this article to learn more about the problems in the Andaman region. If you would like to learn more about Pingers, please visit our website www.fumunda.com.

Posted by James Turner on October 13, 2009 06:26


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