A report on baleen whale records and recent developments in marine mammal research and conservation policy - update from India
Twelve baleen whale reports were collected from June 2018 to May 2019. Of these seven were of live sightings reported by participatory fisher and diver networks along the coast, including two Brydeâ€™s whale groups, and two separate humpback whale sightings of one individual each. The rest were unidentified baleen whale sightings. These reports are summarised here. Five â€˜hotspot areasâ€™ of the west coast, were identified, where information was gathered by interviewing fishers and inviting them to be part of a growing participatory reporting network. . We plan to continue this work in 2019-20 with passive acoustic monitoring using SoundTraps in two of the five hotspots. At the National level the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, New Delhi has developed a National Arabian Sea Humpback whale Research and Recovery program. National and State-level programs are being developed, with support from the author and a wider research network in India. We recommend dedicated baleen whale surveys and collaborative efforts with local teams, to carry out long term research and conservation, including a net disentanglement workshop.