Mumbai | A whale calf that rescued and pushed back into the sea after a 40-hour-long operation has died due to some complications and got washed ashore at Ganpatipule in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district, an official said on Thursday.
After sending the whale calf, weighing nearly 4 tons, into the deep sea on Wednesday, it was alive and swimming on its own. But, later it might have developed health-related complications which led to its death, deputy forest officer Girija Desai told PTI.
The 35-foot-long giant marine mammal was pushed back into the sea after a 40-hour operation. It got washed ashore with the high tide late Wednesday night, the official said.
Forest officials examined the motionless whale calf and found it dead, she said.
A team of wildlife veterinary experts from Goa will reach the spot in some time and conduct an autopsy, following which the exact cause of the death will be ascertained, she said.
Necropsy (post-mortem examination on an animal) is a time consuming process and it may take a day or two, the official said, adding that all due processes will be followed by consulting the wildlife experts team.
Besides personnel from the forest department, police, district administration and the Coast Guard, locals and other stakeholders were also roped-in for the rescue operation of the whale calf, which got stranded on the coast of Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri, located nearly 340 km from Mumbai.
They also tried to airlift it and take it to the deep waters, but it was difficult due to the sea animal's weight, the official said.
On Wednesday evening, some local fishermen spotted the whale calf floating in the sea. As the calf was not seen performing its natural movements, there was a suspicion that it might be unconscious, she said.
"Our team was ready to treat it again and a wildlife experts team from Goa was also called for further tests," she said.
After the whale calf got washed ashore, forest officials found it dead, the official said.
Rescue teams had made all efforts to save it and keep it alive for more than 40 hours (during the rescue operation), she added.
The whale calf reached the coast on Monday but got stuck in the sand near the beach as there was a low tide.
Travellers and locals who spotted it struggling in shallow waters alerted the authorities, including the Ratnagiri police and Coast Guard, resulting in the rescue operation.
Initial attempts by the fire brigade, police and local residents to push back the whale calf deep into the sea did not succeed, triggering concerns about its safety and survival, an official earlier said.
Moving quickly on their feet, the rescuers then began pouring seawater to keep the calf hydrated and covered it with cotton to create the required environment to save it, he said.
A team of veterinary doctors also reached the spot and administered fluid to the whale calf to keep it alive.
An effort was made to push the sea animal by tying it with a belt and dragging it, but it caused injuries near its tail, prompting authorities to abort the method. Meanwhile, marine experts were also roped in to monitor the whale calf's health, he said.
On Tuesday night, a tugboat was brought and the whale was placed on a net under a new rescue plan. During high tide, officials and locals again started pushing the calf into the water. They were inspired to work harder seeing the calf itself making attempts to slide towards deeper water, the official said.
After working relentlessly for several hours, the whale calf was dragged 7 to 8 nautical miles into the sea by the tugboat in the early hours of Wednesday, the official said.
Once back in its natural habitat, the whale calf broke the net and started swimming on its own. It then swam deeper and vanished into the sea, Ratnagiri district Superintendent of Police Dhananjay Kulkarni said on Wednesday.