Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An ode to a finless porpoise

The by-caught finless porpoise in Paloh, West Kalimantan (photo: WWF Indonesia)

I have one wish at the moment. I wish I knew the ancient prayers of the Maori in New Zealand or the Native North Americans in the Arctic circles. For I would be able to chant a prayer to a particular finless porpoise who died last Sunday (13/10/13), by-caught by a fisher in Paloh, West Kalimantan. The finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides), very likely female and pregnant, was by-caught on Sunday afternoon and was about to be sold to the market when my WWF friends (led by Dwi Suprapti, DVM) intervened and asked the fisher to let the porpoise go. The fisher did, and thus we have our Code 2 carcass for the November stranding workshop in Bali.

Dwi (and her WWF team) and I (and my team) have been on alert for the last few months since I asked her assistance to obtain a Code 2 carcass for the stranding workshop. The alert went to Red level when a few weeks ago Dwi et al. obtained a finless porpoise carcass, also from Paloh. But the carcass was already Code 4, such that it would be ‘a smelly soup inside’ when opened, as my vet friend Nimal told me. Turned out, the Paloh harbour folks also agreed that the animal was already very smelly; they asked us to ditch the carcass from their fridge (er, yes, we did put the carcass for a bit in their refrigerator...). So, no carcass to examine. Not that I was sad about it, I had no intention in examining a Code 4 carcass either...