After Narmada estuary, more dolphins seen on south Gujarat coast near Tithal

The dolphin in the Narmada estuary might have surprised the locals in Bharuch, but for the fishermen in south Gujarat the presence of this aquatic mammal is not new.

Sources said a day after forest officials were informed about a dolphin in Narmada estuary, locals in Tithal had sited as many as five dolphins together.

While the forest officials have still not confirmed whether the dolphin has returned to the sea, wildlife activists in Valsad said the fishermen often tell them about dolphins coming close to their boats.

"We are not sure whether the dolphin has gone back to the sea or it is still in the estuary. We will continue to monitor the area for the next few days," said Range Forest Officer S K Pandya.

While the forest officials at Bharuch are new to such a situation, experts say that it is not an uncommon phenomenon. "Dolphins enter estuaries for protection from strong wind conditions or bad weather at sea. The particular species that was seen at Narmada estuary, Sousa chinensis (Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphin) is a coastal and brackish water species found in shallow coastal areas rather than deepwater areas or open seas. They do travel to open seas but live in shallow coastal areas. They are also found near river mouths and downstream river areas where freshwater and saline water meet," said Dipani Sutaria, an Ahmedabad-based marine scientist.

Meanwhile, for Urmil Desai, an artist from Valsad, it was a pleasant surprise when he saw about five dolphins at a stone's throw on the Tithal beach. "I usually go for walks to the Tithal beach. On Saturday, I saw a huge creature and immediately recognised it as a dolphin, as my friends are animal activists. I have taken some photographs and videos. I wanted to follow it but they were too fast and within minutes they travelled deep into the sea," said Desai.

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