Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour has confirmed that the removal process has begun for the over 50 Shortfin pilot whales that have died on the island of Anegada.
The pod of whales estimated to be some 150 were seen by observers in the area. The spatial spread of the stranding were scattered across remote pockets around the eastern end of Anegada.
To date, 17 whales that were found entangled within the prop roots within the mangrove forest and conch mounts were towed out at sea. The 30-40 whales that were beached on the sand were buried. The task of removal is estimated to be completed by Wednesday, July 6.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour with the assistance from representatives from the non-profit organisations (NGO) Association of Reef Keepers and Beyond the Reef, along with volunteers from the Anegada community, collected genetic tissue samples and morphometric data from 39 whales and will be sent out of the Territory for further analysis.
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull stated, “We are doing everything possible to get the area prepared for the enjoyment of locals and visitors so that they can resume recreational activities within the area. Moving forward, the Ministry will be organising a local stranding network, working alongside our local NGO partners for clear and concise communication which will result in quicker mobilisation of all members involved.”
Marine Biologist Ms. Argel Horton from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour stated, “It’s a tragic situation, one which we all can learn from. From the genetic samples collected, we would be able to learn more about the deep-water mammals that do not often venture into shallow waters. We will determine the gender, stomach content, age and so much more. We urge the public once again to notify the Ministry of all marine mammals that passes through the area. The earlier we learn about possible stranding events, the better as we can mobilise our team and partners and act quickly which may save their lives.”
The Ministry would like to express their gratitude towards Beyond the Reef, Association of Reef Keepers, the Anegada community, the fishermen, BVI Rotary family, BVI Gin and Nanny Cay Chandlery and all other volunteers for all the assistance they have shown and supplies donated for handing this tragic event.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour continues to administer the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long term sustainability and can be contacted via telephone at 468-2147 during regular hours of operation or at 468-9678 outside of regular business hours. The Ministry can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Photos 1, 2, 3: Photos of the ongoing whale removal process on Anegada
(Photo credit: Provided by Beyond the Reef)