Wounded whales given 50:50 chance
THE NATION - 26th January 2003
Two pygmy killer whales, discovered swimming erratically off a southern Cha-am beach last Tuesday, have a 50-50 chance of recovery, veterinarians treating them said yesterday.
The pygmies, which rescuers have named Paradorn and Tammy, are being held at a pond at the Phetchaburi Test and Research Centre of the Fisheries Department and treated for infection and starvation by veterinarians from Chulalongkorn University's Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Centre (Vmaarc).
"The animals appear to have been injured by gill nets," centre director Tanan Sanggontaivagit said, adding that they had probably swum into the nets set out by fishermen and become entangled when they tried to escape. Dr Nantarika Chansue, a Vmaarc vet, and her assistants Dr Jariya Sutanopaiboon and Dr Narin Yanil have been administering antibiotics and vitamins to the two stricken animals but are doubtful whether they will survive.
"We have seen some improvement, but the animals are under considerable stress, which affects their condition," Nantarika said.
If Paradorn and Tammy continue to improve, she hopes to have them moved from the centre's pond to a seawater pen, which she believes will speed their recovery.
Pygmies generally grow to a metre and a half and inhabit deep tropical waters, where they feed on fish and squid. The smallest but most aggressive of the killer-whale family, they pose no threat to humans.