Thu, Apr 04, 2019 - Page 2 News List

CGA awaits autopsy to declare cause of humpback dolphin’s death

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Coast guard personnel and other people stand around the remains of an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin that was found on Tuesday on a beach in Kinmen County’s Jinsha Township.

Photo provided by the Coast Guard Adminsitration

Dead Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin was found on Tuesday on a beach in Kinmen County’s Jinsha Township (金沙), but the cause of death could not be confirmed before an autopsy is performed, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday.

The species is classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to a declining population.

The 2.6m-long dolphin was partly decayed by the time it was found, said Lee Kuo-wei (李國維), an official at the CGA’s Kinmen-Matsu-Penghu branch.

The carcass had no apparent injuries, Lee added.

Coast-guard personnel and some members of the Taiwan Cetacean Society buried the carcass on the site before others arrived to conduct an examination, he said.

The last time dead humpback dolphin was found in the county was in 2016, he said, adding that finless porpoises are the most common animals stranded on its coast.

The creature might be an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin previously living in waters off Kinmen and China’s Xiamen, instead of a Taiwanese humpback dolphin — a subspecies — living near the western coast of Taiwan, society executive secretary Tseng Cheng-tsung (曾鉦琮) said.

The species typically lives in waters within 3km of the coastline, Tseng said.

Studies have shown that maybe only 10 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins still live in the waters off Kinmen and Xiamen, while the number of recognizable mature Taiwanese humpback dolphins dropped to 60 last year, he said.

The autopsy is to be performed by society members and county government officials at the end of the long Tomb Sweeping holiday weekend, Tseng added.

Causes of death for whales and dolphins vary greatly, ranging from marine pollution, fishery activity and habitat destruction, he said.

The number of whales and dolphins stranded along Taiwan’s coastline has been increasing, showing that the marine environment is deteriorating, he said.

About 60 whales and dolphins per year have been found stranded along the nation’s coastline from the late-1990s to 2015, Tseng said, adding that from 2016 to last year, the number increased to an average of 110 per year.

The Ocean Conservation Administration said that it is collecting information about the dead dolphin and that it would soon publish statistics about animals stranded over the past several years.

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