Carcasses of turtles, dolphins cause worry

Photo shows a dead turtle on St Martin’s Island beach on 23 January 2024.Prothom Alo

Marine animal’s carcasses are washing ashore in beaches of Cox’s Bazar, much to the worry of oceanographers. In the latest incident, the body of a turtle washed ashore at Sonarpara and another at Rejukhal area on Sunday morning. Both were olive ridley sea turtles. The turtles were gravid with 215 eggs.    

Earlier, one turtle was washed ashore at Rejukhal on Thursday, three at Inani beach and one at Rejukhal on Friday, one each at Himchari and Sonarpara beaches on Saturday. All these were gravid and of olive ridley species.

Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute’s (BORI) sources said eight olive ridley sea turtles, three dolphins and one small dolphin-like Porpoise washed ashore in Cox’s Bazar between Wednesday morning and Sunday morning. Deaths of so many sea creatures within five days was not recorded in the past. These deaths have left oceanographers worried.

BORI’s senior scientific officer Toriqul Islam told Prothom Alo that each turtle died while coming to the beaches to lay eggs. There were bruises on the body of the turtles. It is suspected that the turtles died by being hit with the fishing nets or trawlers.

Three dolphins in two days

An Irrawaddy dolphin washed ashore at Himchari Beach on Thursday afternoon. The body of another Irrawaddy dolphin washed ashore at Sonarpara beach on Friday. At the same time, an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin washed ashore at Inani sea beach. Scientists said it was the first instance of discovery of an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin in Cox’s Bazar. The 240-kg dolphin was 8 feet and 10 inches long.  

The humpback dolphin’s skeleton has been preserved at BORI for use in education and research activities. Scientific officer Tariqul Islam said the dolphins were buried at the beach specimen collection. These would be exhumed and preserved at BORI after a year or one and half year.

Engendered porpoise

Body of a baby porpoise washed ashore on Sugonda sea beach on Wednesday for the first time ever in Cox’s Bazar. Porpoises are enlisted as an endangered animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The porpoise has been preserved at BORI’s specimen museum after autopsy. The porpoise weighed only 3.88 kgs.

November to March is the breeding season for turtles. The turtles lay eggs at the beach at that period and return to sea. Oceanographers said bodies of at least 28 sea turtles washed ashore in Cox’s Bazar, Ramu, Ukhiya, Teknaf, Saint Martin’s and Sonadia.

BORI’s director general Towhida Rashid said forensic samples of the carcasses have been collected and reasons behind the death would be known after receiving the forensic reports.

According to BORI, nine carcasses of dolphins washed ashore in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf sea beaches between 2020 and last Friday. Three dolphins washed ashore in Cox’s Bazar in the last three months.