Over 80 large mammals believed to be melon-headed whales were on Sunday, April 4 washed ashore at the Axim-Bewire beach in the Nzema East Municipality.
Speaking to Citi News, the Western Regional Acting Director of the Fisheries Commission, Alhassan Arafat Salifu said, he is unable to tell the cause of the incident, although most of the mammals washed ashore were dead while some were also found alive.
“We are now counting to know the actual numbers that were washed ashore since they are in different parts of the beach. Some are still struggling to breathe and some are dead,” he said.
Reacting to concerns of residents who had already taken several of the dead mammals, the Acting Western Regional Fisheries Director said they will conduct further investigations into the matter.
“This is the information we have also picked up, but we don't know where those who picked some of the mammals have taken them to. So until we are able to do further investigation, we will not know where they have been taken to,“ he said.
The mammals that were alive have since returned to the sea.
The mammals according to Friends of the Nation, a socio-environmental NGO, belongs to the small-to-medium-sized toothed whale of the oceanic dolphin family.
Explaining to Citi News the possible cause of the sudden appearance of the mammals at the shore in their large numbers, a Programme Officer at the Friends of the Nation, Solomon Kusi Ampofo, said there are three possibilities.
“It is possible they were caught in tuna purse seine nets, or underwater noise due to seismic survey interrupting their normal behaviour and driving them away from areas important to their survival, such as feeding and breeding grounds.”
“Pollution from heavy metal and man-made chemical concentrations can also cause that,” he said.