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Fact-Checked: Viral Video Claims To Show Whales At Bombay High. Is It True?

With people across the world staying in due to lockdowns that have been imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, many social media posts that show wildlife in urban places have flooded social media of late. While some – like a tweet about dolphins returning to the canals of Venice – have been debunked as fake, others have left social media users fascinated. Over the weekend, a video that claims to show whales swimming at Bombay High emerged on social media and quickly went viral – but is the video real? 

Bombay High is an offshore oilfield located about 176 kms off the coast of Mumbai. The oil operations are run by India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The video in question, which is being widely circulated online, shows whales swimming in crystal clear waters and appears to have been filmed from a vessel. It is being shared with captions like “Whales spotted off Bombay High, ONGC oil rig. Nature reclaiming its spaces,” and “Whales seen at Bombay High near ONGC oil rigs.”

According to Indian Forest Services officer Parveen Kaswan, while the video definitely shows whales, it was not captured at Bombay High. “So this is the video which everybody shared. Claiming it from Bombay High. It is from 2019, shot at Indonesia,” he wrote, sharing the original clip which was first posted online by BBC News Indonesia. 

Mr Kaswan also pointed out that spotting humpback whales at Bombay High is not that unusual, since the oilfield is located 170 kms inside the ocean. “Humpback whales are natural in Arabian Sea. They are migratory, but few remain for full year between Oman & India. Govt runs a programme to save whales. Bombay High is not on coast, it is 170 kms inside ocean,” he wrote on the microblogging platform. 

ONGC also confirmed that the video was not filmed near any of their installations or by any of their employees. An ONGC spokesperson, in a statement to Hindustan Times, said: “It’s heartening to see marine life thriving. However, mobiles are not allowed in ONGC offshore installations. Therefore, this video has not been shot at/near any ONGC offshore installation.”

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