Dozens of Veterinary Medicine Scholars Save Stranded Whales

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Representatives of FKH UNAIR contributed in the evacuation process of the stranded whales in Probolinggo. (Photo: Special)

UNAIR NEWS – Civitas academica of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FKH) Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) contributed in the evacuation process of short fin whales stranded in Probolinggo waters, East Java. From the 32 whales, as the news published, there are 4 whales evacuated by alliance of FKH UNAIR team, government agency and the locals.

There were two teams consisted of 18 students and 3 lecturers sent in two days in turns by FKH UNAIR on Wednesday afternoon, June 15 and Thursday morning June 16.

One of the FKH UNAIR lecturers contributed was M. Yunus, drh., M.Kes., Ph.D. He received a report from the local fishermen on mammals made an entry to Probolinggo waters two weeks ago. But at that time, his department did not know the type of the mammals. At that time, he was holding a technical briefing (bimtek) to local fisheries and marine agency.

“We predicted,  that in the next few days there will be some mammals stranded. The prediction did happen. We collaborated with fisheries and marine agency left for Probolinggo with FKH UNAIR officials’ approval,” said Yunus the head of FKH UNAIR evacuation team.

In the evacuation process, the alliance rescue team included fisheries and marine agency, police force and military,sub-district and the locals. According to Yunus, the first step needed to do was setting a perimeter about 100 meters from human.

“Direct contact with sea mammals is dangerous, because they have huge body and the tail can be dangerous. Besides, the sea mammals are also potentials to carry unknown pathogens, are they sick as carriers or reservoir,” added Yunus.

After setting up a perimeter, the mammals are handled. The stranded whales’ conditions were various. Some of them dies and some other live. Yunus and team prioritized the living whales. One of the challenges in the evacuation was the locations which were stranded in mangrove areas.

“Unfortunately on Gending coast, the whales were separated as they went into branches rivers. That’s where the difficulties lied. Outside estuary the water is not so deep. In the estuary the water was a bit deeper. Some of them were pregnant and finally they died. Some died of exhaustion or stress. Some live, their head are faced to the sea and prevent their blowholes covered with water and sand,” said Yunus.

(Paling Kanan), M. Yunus, drh., M.Kes., Ph.D., salah satu dosen yang mendampingi tim FKH UNAIR yang mengevakuasi paus pilot di Probolinggo. (Foto: UNAIR NEWS)
(Further right), M. Yunus, drh., M.Kes., Ph.D., one of the lecturers in FKH UNAIR which guiding the process of evacuation of shortfinned pilot whales in Probolinggo. (Photo: UNAIR NEWS)


In the process, the alliance evacuated until at 1 o’clock in the morning. “We dipped ourselves. The whales looked helpless. Some stranded in some mangrove root. Imagine a mammal that big stuck and injured. We evacuated them because if at low tide the process will be even more difficult,” added Yunus.

But, because it was late and the low tide came, only one whale was evacuated in Thursday morning. From nine dead whales, the experts have performed necropsy.

Beside evacuation, UNAIR FKH team also conducted a research on the stranded whales. “Besides research and medical aspect, also a lesson for the students. At the moment there are four whales had been taken the samples and performed necropsy with limited instruments. We have to adjust with the site and the animlas,” said Yunus.

Next, there will be sample testing for the pathology, paracyte and other tests. From them, we can see what factors cause the whales stranded in Probolinggo coast. “There are many predictions. There is unusual high tide in Hindia Ocean and made them confused. Second, this high tide brought their food to the shore, so these whales hunted them to shallow waters. The third, they were running from a predator like Orca. Fourth, they migrated from the extreme temperature,” said Yunus.

Even though there were 9 dead whales, Yunus said that the number was not very big compared to many other animals which were stranded before. It was all because of the alliance team cooperation so the evacuation ran fast.

One of the FKH UNAIR student who was in the evacuation team, Ma’ruf said that it was an interesting experience for him. “That was an activity of learning by doing because we directly observed and evacuated the wild animals,” said the head of pet and wild animal veterinary group. (*)

Author: Defrina Sukma S.
Editor : Dilan Salsabila

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