Six Whales Stranded on Ketewel Beach

April 22, 2006
Six pygmy killer whales were found stranded on the beach in Ketewel, East Bali, on 19 April 2006. This was the first occurrence ever recorded in the area, as normally these mammals are often sighted and stranded on the north side of Bali. Nengah Wijana, 48, one of the residents of the area, first spotted four whales on the beach at 7 AM, then by noon two more whales were standed on the same spot. Wijana reported the incident to the East Bali Police Department, which conveyed the news to the Benoa Maritime Police. It wasn’t long after two trucks, two rubber boats and eight personnels of the Maritime Police arrived, along with the head of Reef Check Foundation, Paraima Hutasoit and a number of volunteers from nearby dive centers. Amongst them was a Kapal Selam Dive Club member Fandy Wijaya with three other crew from Bali Scuba, namely Sangut, Kirman and Komang. The evacuation process faced some difficulties due to the high tides of Ketewel beach. The waves, approximately two meters high, and also the strong wind made it hard for the rubber boat to travel. The whales, calculated to be about five years of age, are heavy and big in size (approx. 2m and 100kg each) and this factor also made it difficult for the volunteers to carry them to the deeper waters. Eventually the team managed to get the mammals into the back of the truck filled with sea water and evacuated them to the Sunrise Beach in Sanur where they were finally released into calmer waters. The Maritime Police suspected the whales were stranded due to stress or the chase from bigger mammals. But Pariama Hutasoit from the Reefcheck Foundation, who also confirmed that the whales are pygmy killer whales, not dolphins as initially thought, claimed that the one of the whales were probably caught into fishermen’s net and panicked, while the others soon follows. Pariama explained that pygmy killer whales live in schools in the tropical waters, generally close to the reefs. Reported by: Mia Aristanti