The carcass of a Gangetic dolphin was found in the Hooghly on Tuesday.
India’s national aquatic animal, protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is suspected of having choked on a fishing net. Some nature lovers, including a veteran birder from Kolkata, were the first to spot the carcass on the banks of the Hooghly near a crematorium in Nayachar in Purba Bardhaman’s Katwa, over 150km from the heart of Kolkata.
“The carcass was rotting. We informed the forest department which took the carcass away. The mammal had injury marks suggesting the role of fishing nets,” said Ganesh Chowdhury, a local wildlife enthusiast.
Chowdhury was accompanied by Sujan Chatterjee, veteran birdwatcher and conservationist, and a couple of others.
Chatterjee said moments before spotting the carcass, he came across another dolphin, “alive and struggling to free itself from a fishing net”.
Dolphins often get trapped in fishing nets when they rise to the surface to get enough air to breathe. But once trapped in nets, they cannot rise to breathe and choke to death.
In Hooghly, fishing nets have led to the death of multiple dolphins in the past few years, said animal lovers and foresters. On Tuesday, the divisional forest officer in Burdwan did not answer calls.
A forest official said the dolphin seemed “very young”.
“There were injury marks and remnants of what looked like a net. The body has been taken for post-mortem,” he said.