Myanmar tsunami fears eased

The sighting of hundreds of dolphins, whales and porpoises off the southern Myanmar coast has eased concerns that marine mammals may have been affected by December’s tsunami, a semi-official newspaper has reported.

Foreign and Myanmar conservation experts made the observations during a survey of the Tanintharyi coast and particularly in the waters of the Myeik archipelago, which is rich in marine bio-diversity, the Myanmar Times said.

“The survey has dispelled concerns that (whale and dolphin) habitats may have been damaged by the December 26 tsunami,” Mya Than Tun, a research officer of the Department of Fisheries, was quoted as saying.

Myanmar suffered relatively little damage and loss of life when the tsunami struck southern Asia, killing at least 174,000 people in 11 countries.

The two-week survey was organized by the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society, the British-based Whales and Dolphin Conservation Society and the Convention on Migratory Species in Germany. It ended March 7.

The team included a dozen scientists from Myanmar, Bangladesh, India and Sri-Lanka and was led by Brian Smith, a conservation zoologist. The newspaper said it was the first such survey conducted in Myanmar.

Tint Tun, a Myanmar biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the survey will be used to determine the population of marine mammals in Myanmar’s coastal waters.

The team, which surveyed waters off Bangladesh last year, will conduct similar research in India and Sri Lanka in the coming months.

Source: The China Post