Dolphins, giant shrimps make comeback to Melaka shores

MELAKA: Schools of dolphins and giant marine shrimps are returning close to Melaka shores during the lockdown - after a good 40 years.

Melaka agriculture, agro-based, entrepreneur development and cooperative committee chairman Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee (pic) said the emergence of these marine life is because of minimal sea reclamation activities along the state's coast.

"Fishermen had spotted the dolphins near our shores on Thursday (June 10) and we must look into saving our marine ecosystem by not approving any more reclamation works," he said in an interview on Saturday (June 12).

Norhizam said water pollution has come down to an astonishing level due to the lockdown and this must have possibly prompted the dolphins to return.

He said the sighting of medium-sized Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins along the beaches is extremely rare these days and the return of this beautiful marine animal is good news to the locals.

"Dolphins have been previously sighted a few nautical miles from our shores but they have never ventured close to our shoreline," he said.

Norhizam said the giant shrimps have also surfaced, thus allowing local fishermen to enjoy a bountiful catch.

However, he said one of the dolphins was found dead at Pantai Puteri on Friday (June 11).

Norhizam said the State Fisheries Department believed that the animal - about 15-year-old and weighing 250kg - died due to injuries after being trapped in a fishing net.

Meanwhile, an activist from the Portuguese community here said the earnings of local fishermen have doubled since the giant shrimps surfaced.

Chairman of the Save The Portuguese Action Committee chairman Martin Theseira said the giant shrimps are in high demand and middlemen were willing to pay heftily to the fishermen for their catch.

"I hope the state government realises that harming our shoreline through reclamation works can be detrimental to our local fishermen.

"Today, we see the smile on the faces of our fishermen as the lockdown helped them to increase their revenues with more catches," he said.

On the dolphin sighting, Theseira who has been a fisherman for 20 years since 1969 said it's rare for the sea creatures to swim close to Melaka shores.

"Dolphins were a common sight for Melakans before the reclamation work started in 1974," he said.

Theseira said he is also hopeful that giant turtles would return to Melaka during the lockdown.

"Veteran fishermen would tell us stories of turtles as big as a Volkswagen Beetle that were commonly spotted from the late 1960s to the 1970s," he added.

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