Drishti Marine’s entire lifeguard force trained as first responders and rescuers of distressed marine life which wash ashore along Goa’s coast

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~ Goa Forest Department in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Mangroves for the Future and Terra Conscious and supported by Drishti Marine went through intensive workshops on Marine Mammal and Turtle Stranding Response in an effort to better manage the rescue and handling of marine mammals washed ashore ~

~The entire team of 600 Drishti Marine lifeguards have been trained as first responders and rescuers of distressed marine life which wash ashore in North and South Goa. ~

~ Data collated by Drishti Marine lifeguards and Goa Forest Department will aid in scientific assessment and studies on the threats faced by marine life in Goa’s coastal ecosystem ~

Goakhabar: Goa Forest Department, Drishti Marine in collaboration with Terra Conscious and supported by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Mangroves for the Future recently went through a series of workshops in the North and South of Goa at the lifeguard centers in Candolim and Benaulim.

The Marine Mammal and Turtle Stranding Response Workshops are an effort to better manage the rescue and handling of marine carcasses that wash ashore along Goa’s 105-km coastline. The entire team of 600 strong Drishti Marine lifeguards have been trained as first responders and rescuers of distressed marine life which wash ashore. Further, 43 forest department officials participated in the marine mammal and turtle stranding response workshops.

Terra Conscious conducted the workshop using interactive presentations, videos and practical demonstrations to build capacity of the participants to address stranding of cetaceans and turtles along Goa’s shores. The lifeguards were briefed also on the marine life which exists along the country’s west coast with an emphasis on Goa. Lifeguards are now trained torecognize the species of marine mammals and turtles, as well as their carcasses when they are washed ashore. The workshop also touched upon the process of recording data on the prevailing marine life in an accurate manner which will help in collating statistical data and inputs for the future conservation action. Accordingly the accurate processes to be followed while recording important information such as the location, time, condition of the animal, measurements of the carcass and type of sea creatures that are stranded as well as the process of rescuing the mammal or turtle without injury were shared with the lifeguards and forest guards in order to maintain accountability of marine life along Goa’s coastal stretch.

“The previous year, we had trained only 150 lifeguards and we received a tremendous response. Hence, this year we decided to train the entire lifeguard force. This initiative is very unique, where a partnership has been created between government, private sectors and NGOs to save marine life.

Drishti Marine lifeguards are like a second pair of eyes for the Forest Department and protocols have been followed. Drishti Marine will be keeping necessary equipment such as gloves, measuring tapes (provided by IUCN-India) and masks in every lifeguard tower to ensure protocols are followed,” said Puja Mitra, Founder and Director, Terra Conscious.

Ravi Shankar, CEO, Drishti Marine, said, “Drishti Marine lifeguards are the frontline responders to marine wildlife along the coastal belt of Goa and can assist the Goa Forest Department in rescuing and collecting accurate records of the incidents that occur on the coastal stretch and handing it over to the department. The lifeguards genuinely want to help the stranded animals and were more than willing to be trained in how to rescue them. They want to make a difference and help and it just gets that much more interesting when it’s done as part of the job.”

What does one do if they spot a carcass or mammal in distress?

  • In case a visitor finds a turtle or marine mammal washed ashore and in distress, contact the nearest lifeguard tower and inform a lifeguard immediately. The lifeguards are trained to manage the situation and will relay the information to the correct agencies and departments.
  • Refrain from touching the marine life as it may carry diseases. It’s necessary to wear protective gloves while handling marine mammals
  • There are 5 codes used internationally to assess cases of marine mammal stranding and carcasses. It is essential that lifeguards, forest department and other officials wear masks and gloves at Code 2 and above to avoid contracting a disease from the mammal as it can prove fatal.

    International Carcass Codes for Marine Mammal and Turtle Rescues

  • Code 1: Alive
  • Code 2: Fresh Carcass (No smell, no bloating)
  • Code 3: Slightly Decomposed (Little smell, bloating, skin peeling, tongue swollen)
  • Code 4: Highly Decomposed (very bad smell, bloating, organs spilling out, parts of the body missing)
  • Code 5: Bones and/or some muscle