After a 20-ft-long whale calf was spotted on the coast in Olpad taluka in Gujarat’s Surat district on Sunday evening, local villagers made a 35-ft long, 15 ft wide and 2-m deep pit and filled it with water to save the mammal. On Monday, they along with volunteers of the NGO Prayas tied a rope to the calf’s tail and freed it into the sea with the help of a boat.
The whale calf was first spotted by Nainesh Patel (45), a fisherman from the Mor village. He informed his cousin, and forest officials and the NGO Prayas were later informed. Hundreds of villagers joined the efforts to save the mammal. Water was brought from the sea in buckets and was poured on the mammal to keep it alive.
Forest and NGO officials held a meeting on saving the mammal. The villagers, mostly fishermen, told the officials that high tide would come on Monday afternoon, and that till then something should be done to save the mammal.
Talking to The Indian Express, Nainesh Patel said, “I was cleaning the web of threads to catch fish on Sunday late afternoon. And after finishing my work, suddenly the tide came and I kept myself at a safer place. Later when the water receded, I was shocked to see a big animal on the bank. I called my family members and told them about it. People from the village turned up at the spot and later we sent a video appeal through four WhatsApp groups and requested people to come to Lalua (the place where the calf was found) and help to save the calf. After some time, around 300 people gathered and we started bringing water from the sea in buckets and pouring it on the fish in a bid to keep her body hydrated.”
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Another villager, Dikshit Patel, said, “The forest officials and Prayas volunteers also turned up and we made a plan to save the calf. It was finally decided to make a pit and fill it with water. We brought a JCB and made the pit. We made arrangements to draw water from the sea using a pump set. The work continued till 2 am on Monday. Later, after seeing the calf was comfortable, we all went back home.”
Surat Deputy Conservator of Forest Sachin Gupta said, “We were at the spot on Sunday till late night and again on Monday morning, our teams reached the spot, Lalua. The villagers suggested that the high tide would again come on Monday afternoon, so our task was to save the calf till Monday afternoon and for that, we made a pit and saved the mammal.”
“On Monday afternoon, as high tide started and seawater reached near the pit, we tied the calf’s tail to a boat with a rope. The calf sailed in the water and reached the sea. After some time, it again turned up at the same location on the bank. We again pulled the calf with the rope and sailed the boat deep into the sea, where the calf was freed. The efforts made by the locals were excellent and we could save the calf thanks to their help,” he said.