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Sperm Whales Spotted in Pakistani Waters

Photo Credit: WWF
This is the first sighting of sperm whales since a skeleton was found in December 2005
By TR Pakistan

A pair of sperm whales were spotted by fishermen on Tuesday near Jiwani, about 22 kilometers south of Gunz, which is part of Gwadar in Balochistan.

In a statement, the World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan said this is the first time that a pair of sperm whales had been spotted in Pakistani waters.

The fishermen followed the whales for an hour and a half until they took a deep dive and disappeared into the sea. Their movements were also captured on video.

WWF-Pakistan Marine Fisheries Technical Adviser Muhammad Moazzam Khan said until recently, only a few bones of another species had been collected from Daran Beach near Jiwani. He said previously, in December 2005, a sperm whale skeleton was found in Sonara Beach near Karachi.

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WWF-Pakistan trains fishermen (mainly skippers) to collect information about fish catch as well as bycatch, especially of megafauna (whales, dolphins, whale sharks and mobulidae rays). The fishermen have also been trained to safely release rare marine species that get trapped in their fishing nets and to collect information about free swimming whales and dolphins.

Known in the scientific community as Physeter macrocephalus, sperm whales are a cosmopolitan species, found in all major oceans of the world. The whales migrate seasonally for breeding and feeding purposes and can be easily recognized by their rounded foreheads and massive heads, that represent up to one-third of the animal’s length.

Sperm whales are the largest toothed predator and have the largest brain of any animal on Earth. They feed on a variety of fishes and invertebrates, though 80 per cent of their diet consists of large squids. These species is currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Dr. Babar Khan, regional head of WWF-Pakistan in Sindh and Balochistan, said the sighting was an important addition to the knowledge of biodiversity of the Arabian Sea. He said that 23 species of cetaceans (whale, dolphin and porpoises) are found here and emphasized the need to implement a Cetacean Conservation Strategy, which would protect whales and other cetaceans in Pakistani waters.

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