Eric Lewis, curator of the Moruga museum, stands next to a dead whale which washed up at the La Lune beach in Moruga yesterday.

Eric Lewis, curator of the Moruga museum, stands next to a dead whale which washed up at the La Lune beach in Moruga yesterday.
A fourth whale beached at La Lune Beach yes­ter­day. It was spot­ted on the shore­line around 6 am. Res­i­dents, game war­dens and the po­lice as­sist­ed in lift­ing the whale on­to the tray of a pick-up and trans­port­ing it to an­oth­er beach where it was guid­ed back out to sea.

Hours lat­er, at around 4 pm, two dead whales washed ashore at an­oth­er area of the beach. Then at around 12.30 pm, an­oth­er dead whale was spot­ted on the shore about a mile away from where the two oth­er whales beached. Moru­ga mu­se­um cu­ra­tor Er­ic Lewis has tak­en pos­ses­sion of the three car­cass­es.

What ex­act­ly is caus­ing the whales to die is not yet known, but the T&T Ma­rine Mam­mal Strand­ing Net­work (TTMM­SN) has warned mem­bers of the pub­lic not to touch the strand­ed ma­rine mam­mals. Vet­eri­nar­i­an Dr Wade Seuk­er­an said the TTMM­SN has re­spond­ed to re­ports of strand­ed mel­on-head­ed whales at var­i­ous coast­lines and necrop­sies per­formed on some of the whales re­vealed that they died from a dis­ease.

Ac­cord­ing to the TTMM­SN, ma­rine mam­mals that wash ashore are typ­i­cal­ly ill and could be har­bour­ing in­fec­tious or­gan­isms that may be harm­ful to hu­mans and oth­er an­i­mals.

"Fur­ther, it is ad­vised to NOT push, pull or drag live strand­ed ma­rine mam­mals back in­to the wa­ter.

"Though well-mean­ing, this ac­tion of­ten does more harm to the an­i­mal than good, as such ill an­i­mals are pre­dis­posed to drown­ing. The pub­lic is there­fore again urged to avoid han­dling and/or con­sum­ing ma­rine mam­mals that wash ashore, as this may pose a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health risk," the TTMMSM said in a re­lease.

The TTMM­SN said ma­rine mam­mals are pro­tect­ed in T&T and in­ter­act­ing with or han­dling them with­out a per­mit is an of­fence.

Lewis, who said he is au­tho­rised to han­dle the ma­rine mam­mals, will be op­er­at­ing on them to de­ter­mine how they died.

He plans to keep the bones at the mu­se­um so that they will be avail­able for re­search by na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als.

An­tic­i­pat­ing that more whales will be wash­ing up in the com­ing days, Lewis has al­so set up a watch group to mon­i­tor the shore­lines at Grand Chemin, La Rufin, Marac and La Re­traite.

Wildlife bi­ol­o­gist Ro­mano Mac­far­lane who heads the Wildlife Sec­tion of the Forestry Di­vi­sion, could not be reached for com­ment yes­ter­day.