Baleen whales reports from the Eastern Arabian Sea based on interview surveys and stranding reports: update from India
International Whaling Commission
In 2017-18, seven unidentified baleen whales, two Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) and two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have been reported from the west coast of India (eastern Arabian Sea). The stranding and sighting reports are summarised here. Fishers were interviewed from south Gujarat to west Tamil Nadu, for baleen whale sighting events to identify hotspots, and to collect community perceptions towards baleen whales. Based on these interviews, along with data on strandings, opportunistic song recordings, and the recent presence of a satellite tagged whale from Oman, seven regions have been identified as hotspots and habitats used by humpback whales. Humpback whales in these areas seem to be common during the months of January to March. We continue our work in 2018-20 with systematic vessel based surveys using dipping hydrophones in four of the seven hotspots. We recommend dedicated baleen whale surveys and collaborative efforts with local and international teams, to carry out in-depth analyses of stranding events, and for a larger coverage in visual surveys with the future use of static passive acoustic monitoring systems.