ITS Campus, ITS News – The existence of dozens of whales stranded in Bangkalan Regency, Madura, still raises some questions on Thursday (18/2). Head of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Data Analytics, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) Dr. Dewi Hidayati S.Si, M, Si, gave several responses and answers based on scientific references to the factors that influence this phenomenon.
Based on several journals and mass media reports, this marine biologist revealed that the whales would migrate in groups in a certain period. Generally, whales that migrate through Indonesian waters are a type of pilot whale or short-finned pilot whale.
At least 52 whales that were stranded are thought to have come from Australian waters and pass through Indonesian waters. In a journal from journals.org about whales’ migratory activity, it is revealed that migration will reach its peak in February and May. “In this study, as well as several other reports, whales generally will pass the same route to migrate,” she said.
Talking about the whale’s ability to remember the paths it takes every year, this can be done thanks to the presence of biomagnitites. Dewi explained that what is meant by bio magnetites are substances that are in the retina of cetaceans which have a function as a magnetic sense that helps them know which direction to move. “This makes the whales sensitive to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field,” she said.
About a scientific article entitled In-depth Whale Navigation: Navigating the Long Way Home by Robin Marks, it is said that whales that follow this magnetic “path” are more likely to become stranded in areas where the path is turning. “This may include several coastal glasses of water of Madura Island and the Madura Strait area,” she explained.
She predicts if the changes in whale navigation can be influenced by various factors, ranging from extreme weather, waves of sunlight, changes in shorelines, sick whales, and it could be from the activity of oil refineries in the vicinity of the waters. “Because there are also references that say that rigs (offshore structures, red) are used as a magnetic benchmark for whales,” she added.
One of the lecturers who is a member of the Laboratory of Zoology and Animal Biology Engineering ITS concluded, actually there are many theories related to this anomaly because many cases have occurred, but the cause is not specific. He observed that at this time, people with their local wisdom had made several rescue efforts.
It is hoped that local communities and related institutions can make protocols for mitigation measures in dealing with stranded whales in the future. The reason is not only once in Indonesia.
With a responsive response from the community, it is hoped that it can help the whales to return to their migration journey. “The size of the whale’s body causes it to be unable to maneuver back into the sea, so it needs direct human assistance,” she said.
Dewi suggested steps that society can take at this time to solve the problem of stranded whales on the beach is to predict when and where the events of whales usually leave. “It can be encouraged to build a whale post around the coast. This post functions as monitoring of coastal conditions, as well as a medium for whale education,” she later explained.
If the public sees stranded whales, he recommends keeping the whales wet because the cause of the whales dies a drastic loss of water content in their bodies. This step can be done by watering it and wetting the body with seawater or immediately releasing it into the sea again. Even if it is not possible to alleviate suffering, some scientific references suggest euthanasia. This is quoted from several concerns, one of which is from the book National Guidance on the Management of Whale and Dolphin Incidents in Australian Waters.
Regarding the treatment of existing whale carcasses, Dewi prioritized disposing of the corpses into the sea. With so many rotting corpses, it can be used as a food source for predators contributing to the marine food chain. “Or maybe the skeleton of a dead whale could be used as a source of teaching material to develop studies on marine mammals,” said Dewi reminded. (ITS Public Relations)
Reporter: Fatima Az Zahra
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