Rare catch: Fishermen catch one of smallest whale species

Published: March 7, 2015
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This specimen of the one of the smallest whales species, pygmy sperm, was found by fishermen around 120 nautical miles southwest of Karachi. PHOTO: COURTESY WWF - PAKISTAN

This specimen of the one of the smallest whales species, pygmy sperm, was found by fishermen around 120 nautical miles southwest of Karachi. PHOTO: COURTESY WWF - PAKISTAN

KARACHI: One of the smallest whales species, pygmy sperm, was found around 120 nautical miles southwest of Karachi. The fishermen caught the whale on Wednesday while they were fishing in the deep sea but the whale was already dead.

This is one of the smallest whales found in the outer continental shelf and considered to be very rare. Known to exist in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, this species is usually found dead on the shores.

The captain of the boat alFahim, Saeed Zaman, caught the pygmy sperm in gillnet used for catching tuna while they were fishing off the shelf area. The whale was enmeshed in the net and died when it was hauled onto the boat.

According to officials of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), the whale was 8.2 feet long and weighed about 400kg. “It is the first authentic record of its presence in our waters,” said Muhammad Moazzam Khan, WWF-Pakistan’s technical adviser.

Previously, there were two unconfirmed records of this whale’s presence in Pakistan after they were found stranded on Sonmiani beach in December, 1985, and dubious observations of a small school off Churna Island, added Khan.

According to him, whales and dolphins are sensitive animals and, in most cases, they die as soon as they become enmeshed in the fishing nets as they are unable to come to surface to breathe. He further pointed out that the pygmy sperm whale feeds on deep water squids and crabs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2015.

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