Marine Animal Diversity

Puducherry has a significant long coastline of 45 Km. Issues pertaining to conservation of marine life (marine animals and plants) need to be identified and a conservation strategy developed. In fact little data are available in this regard as far as Puducherry is concerned.

Beach erosion is also one of the threats to nesting habitats of the turtles along the Puducherry coast. Because of the shore erosion the slope of the beach has become a hindrance for the upward movement of the turtle from the high tide water mark. Beach erosion is intensive along the beaches of Moorthikuppam and between Kanagachettykulam and Kalapet villages.

Fearing the possible loss of buildings due to erosion, the use of many methods to stabilize beaches have started. Along the Puducherry coast, government has put up erosion preventive embankments by piling large stones all along the coast from the new harbour area to Vaithikuppam which makes the nesting habit unavailable to the turtles. One of the major threats to the turtle nesting habitat is the violation of the Environmental Conservation Act which prohibits construction/ establishment of any sort of buildings on the shore within 500 m. from the high tide water mark. But contrastingly in earlier times, most of the buildings were constructed on the shore. In certain places, most of the houses and be, resorts are located with in 100 - 300 m. from the seashore. The other threats identified are disturbances and predators. Now a days, the sea shore is always bustling with the activities by fishermen throughout night due to different methods of fishing which they adopt, such as "crab fishing" by burning torches with buning cycle tyres. The internal conflicts and disturbances between the neighbouring groups of the nearby fishing villages is a comrrion feature. The beaching of the catamarans all along the beaches near their settlements is a common sight which completely occupies the nestling areas available to the turtles. Artificial lights and the menace of the feral dogs have been an perennial threat to the nesting turtles.

Whales

Whales are the most thoroughly marine of all aquatic mammals. They are quite helpless on land; in fact, When beached, they die suffocation because they cannot expand their chests to take in air. Their bodies are so heavy that their relatively Weak chest muscles are not equal to the task of lifting the body. Wales are divided into two groups, the toothed whales (Odontocef) and the whalebone Whales (Mystacoceti)

"Thar she blows" is a call that has become familiar to all who have read whaling stories. The blowing of whales is the expelling of the breath as the whale "broaclies" or shows its back above Water to breathe. The warm breath congeals as it comes in contact with the cold air, and a certain amount of spray is also thrown into the air as the outgoing breath carries away the water that was lying in the blowhole. Whales-bone have a double blowhole and toothed whales a single one. An experienced whaler can tell one from the other by the "spout." The breath of a whale has a terrible stench, perhaps because it is held within the body so long.

Since Whales are mammals they should have hair. Most of them do, but hair is limited to a few (two to fourteen or more, depending on the species) bristles around the mouth. The Beluga, or white, Whale hags no hair. It cannot be said that whales have lost their hair because they have blubber for protection and for keeping them warm, for fur seal, sea lions, seals, walruses, etc., have both blubber and fur or hair.

The bones of whales are somewhat spongy and oily. The ear bones, one on each side, are an exception, for they are very compact. They are sometimes brought up in dredges from great depths along with ancient shark teeth. In most whales the neck bones are fused so that the neck is solid, i.e., does not bend. Even in those whose neck bones are not fused, the bones are thin and the neck consequently short. The flipper is elongated by the greatly increased number of finger bones. In toothed whales only the hand extends outside the body to form the flipper, but in the ,vhalebone whales the Whole arm is free.

Like ruminants, whales have a complicated stomach with several chambers, varying in number from four in the rorquals to fourteen in the ziphioids. However, whales do not ruminate.

The mother whale has two teats, which are at either side and a little ahead of the vaginal opening. They are in groovelike pockets that make it possible for baby whales to nurse without taking in water. At birth baby whales are about one-third the length of the mother, and they grow up in about 2 to 3 years. It is estimated that some whales live to lie seventy-five years'old, though no one knows definitely.

The size of whales his often been exaggerated. The largest ever measured and weighed was 100 ft. long and tveighed 290,000 lb., or 145 tons. This is the came length as Brontosaurus, the giant extinct reptile, but is many, times heavier, for so march of the length of Brontosaurus was neck and tail. Thus it can be said that the larger whales are the largest animals thit have ever lived. They could have grown to such enormous size only in the ocean, where their immense weight is buoyed up by the water. It is probable that the ancient reptiles that grew to such great size fed alongshore where they were partly or wholly supported by water, though they could perhaps migrate short distances onto the shore.

Whales have very small openings into the ear, and their ears have been modified for hearing under water. Since sound waves travel much better under water, the hearing of whales is quite adequate for distinguishing sounds that travel through water, such as the working of oars in a whaling boat or the striking of objects against the boat bottom. Consequently, oars in whaling boats are muffled and the boatmen are very careful not to make a noise.

Most whalebone whales have poorly developed eyes and have little use for sight. Dolphins, porpoises, and killer whales have keen eyesight Dolphins, porpoises, and killer whales are fast swimmers; they are capable of swimming perhaps 30 miles per hr. Larger whales are much slower.

The distance to which whales can dive and the length of time they can stay under water are two questions that have never been settled. They have been the source of argument among whalers for nearly a thousand years. Whales that ive have watched blew, i.e., breathed ordinarily every 3 to 5 min. There are authentic records of harpooned whales staying under for l1/4 hr. and going to depths of perhaps 1/2 mile. For an air breathing mammal this is almost unbelievable. The senior author has watched pearl divers but never saw one stay under for mor than 2 1/2 min. or dive deeper than 65 ft.

The toothed svhales range in size from dolphins 2 or 3 ft. long to the great sperm whale Physeter for which a length of 82 ft. has been recorded 60 ft. being an average for full- grown specimens.

The toothed whales feed on various types of prey; the dolphins an porpoises feed on fishes; and the great sperm whale feeds on giant squids and octopuses, diving 1/4 mile or more to capture them.

The Orca, or killer whale, is perhaps the most alert and active of all it captives porpoises, dolphins, and seals for food. It is also very, fond of the tongues of whalebone whales. Killer whales charge a whalebone whale, forcing their snouts into its mouth, and bite out great chunks of tongue. Practically never is a whalebone whale brought into a whaling station that it does not show tongue sears where it has been bitten by killers. Killer whales have been known to bite out tongues of whalebone whales as the latter were being tossed to the mother ship or to a shore whaling station.

The whalebone whale feeds on small crustaceans in the surface water. It takes in water through the open mouth, closes the lower, jaw until it touches the edge of the whalebone, and then, by raising the tongue to that the water is strained through the hairlike fringes of the whalebone, the food is entrapped. Whalebone whales enormous tongues, which, when raised, decrease the cavity, of the mouth and force out the water.

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