Edited version published in Down to Earth

‘A loud oooooph was heard as the giant surfaced, the sound loud enough to capture the attention of people sprawled across the shoreline. All eyes on the shore gazed in the direction of the gushing sound. They saw a ‘mermaid-shaped body’ gently skimming the surface of the water. A loud splash, and the animal disappeared into the deep blue, leaving in its wake only the quizzical look in the eyes of the people.’

Reacting to such a sighting, a few curious ones entered the water with snorkel and mask, while others watched impatiently for a further glimpse. After all, this was no ordinary sound – it was from a mammal that is highly endangered in the Indian waters – and, in all probability, the only place where it can still be found.

It is the sole remaining species of the…

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