Mammal Identified as Sperm Whale by Experts

Report: Sarpreet Kaur

Port Blair, Feb 25: A stranded marine mammal was reported by the locals at ‘Saanp Tekri’ in Lalaji Bay, Long Island in the evening of 22nd February 2021. According to the eye-witnesses, the carcass was highly degraded and the marine animal was later identified by experts through the photos circulated on WhatsApp as Sperm Whale. The length of this sea creature was around 9 m and was expected to be carried to shore by high currents.

Sperm Whale is the only living member of the genus Physeter and goes by the scientific name Physeter macrocephalus. It is the largest toothed predator and has a global presence including the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. These large-headed creatures get their name after a waxy substance called Spermaceti, which is found in their heads and is used all over the world in oil lamps and candles. It is also highly sought after for Ambergris which is formed in the bile duct of this mammal. Due to these very highly commercial substances, they have been prone to human poaching and hunting.

Sperm Whale is globally protected under ESA and designated as an endangered species since 1970. In India, it is protected under the Schedule one category of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. They are under the threat of extinction due to ever decreasing numbers.

South Andaman region being declared as the first IMMA 'Important Marine Mammal Area' in the country makes it much more important to protect such species. The cause of death of the Sperm whale is yet not clear and the matter is being investigated by the Divisional Forest Office.