Photo: Francis Canlas

Philippines: Massive fish kill hits Lake Sebu anew; state of calamity mulled
31st January 2017;

The Municipal Government of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato is planning to declare the area under the state of calamity due to another major fish kill that already destroyed around P6.5-million worth of Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).

Zaldy Artacho, Lake Sebu municipal agriculture officer, said Tuesday, January 31, that the ongoing fish kill started late last week in portions of the lake after its dissolved oxygen dropped to critical levels anew.

He said the phenomenon, known locally as “kamahong,” came after almost a week of sporadic heavy rains in the area.

Artacho said several fish cage operators initially reported on Friday afternoon that some of their Tilapia appeared gasping for air.

“By night time, the fish kills already started in a number of fish cages,” he said in a radio interview.

Citing their initial assessment, Artacho said a total of 72,335 kilos of Tilapia have been destroyed as a result of the incident.

The prevailing farm gate price for Tilapia in Lake Sebu is P90 per kilo.

Artacho said this figure only came from 19 affected fish cage operators in Barangays Poblacion and Takonel.

He said the validation and assessment is ongoing for the other affected fish cage operators. It was earlier estimated at more than 300.

Some operators were forced to conduct massive emergency harvests over the weekend in a bid to save the remaining Tilapia, he added.

As a result of the incident, Artacho said Mayor Antonio Fungan ordered their office and the barangays affected to prepare the necessary data for the declaration of a state of calamity.

The affected barangays were also ordered to to fast-track their calamity declarations.

Fishery officials had blamed the fish kills to the occurrence of “kamahong,” a phenomenon caused by the sudden rise in the water’s temperature.

Kamahong,” which usually occurs during the rainy season, triggers the rise of sulfuric acid in the lake’s waters, eventually causing a massive fish kill.

The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist said the phenomenon occurs when cold rainwater, which is heavier than warm water, settles at the abyssal zone of the lake.

It causes the upturn or upwelling of warm water carrying silts, sediments and gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, sulphur and methane gas produced by the decomposing organic matter such as fish feeds.

Such situation results in the reduction of dissolved oxygen in the water, “forcing fishes to take in oxygen directly from the atmosphere and eventually die,” it said.

Last year, the Municipal Government of Lake Sebu recorded at least eight fish kills that destroyed around P1.4-million worth of Tilapia. The last major fish kill in the area was in 2014.

Source: Sun.Star

More than 300 fish cage operators were affected by the fish kill in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato which started since Friday.
Photo: Francis Canlas

Philippines:5 tons of Tilapia die in South Cotabato fish kill
By Francis Canlas, 31st January 2017;

Five tons of Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) with an estimated worth of P4.5 million were found dead and floating in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato since Friday.

According to local authorities, more than 300 fish cage operators were affected by the fish kill. The number is expected to rise when an assessment is conducted on Tuesday.

At least 90% of the fish cages were affected by the fish kill.

Jonathan Tomayao, one of the affected operators, lost P225,000 worth of Tilapia fingerlings. He believes non-stop rains last week triggered the fish kill.

Dahan-dahan, kaya ito ang epekto n’ya mas malakas ang epekto. Mas mabuti payung biglaan pagkalipas ng ilang araw, makarekober na sila. Pero kapag ganito ang panahon na dahan-dahan mas malaki ang epekto nito,” he said.

(The rain was gradually pouring, and it has this effect. It’s better to have heavy rains in one go. After a few days, the fingerlings would recover. When the rain is gradual and continuous, it has worse effects on the fingerlings.)

Some operators were forced to harvest and sell their Tilapia to buyers.

Dalawang daliri lang kalaki ipalabas na, baka sakaling mabenta pa, ang iba hindi naman nabenta,” said operator Nilda Prado.

(We harvested fish the size of two fingers in hope of having them sold in the market. Most were not bought.)

The town’s agriculturist, Zaldy Artacho, explained that lack of oxygen caused the fish kill.

Source: ABS-CBN News

Button Snails (Umbonium vestiarium)
Changi, 8th January 2017

Yesterday morning, we found a Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris), 1.7m long and female, beached dead at the East Beach of Danjugan Island. I had to gather strength to respond, because I sometimes could get too emotional when being near marine mammals. The stranding response is to gather measurements and samples, and perform a necropsy to get further insight into the cause of death. Data gathered could support studies on the causes of stranding or other mortalities in cetaceans or marine mammals. I am quite relieved that we didn’t find any indication that the poor Dolphin died due to plastic trash ingestion or fishing gear entanglement – which have become increasingly common causes of stranding. Photos were taken during the necropsy for reporting, and thought I would post just these two for public awareness and education. Thank you very much to Dr. AA Yaptinchay of Marine Wildlife Watch Philippines, Dr. Ari Barcelona, and Kaila Ledesma for the guidance.

Source: Dave Gumban Albao Instagram

A female Spinner Dolphin, 1.7m long, beached dead at the East Beach of Danjugan Island in Negros Occidental yesterday. The animal was examined then buried.

Source: Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

Thailand: The sad tale of the Tiger
28th January 2017;

The death of a Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) from Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary this month provides a stark illustration as to how our forest “management” has failed abysmally.

Before the death of “HKT-178” – which was caused by shotgun wounds – the seven-year-old Tiger was spotted on Jan 8 by villagers of Lampang’s Mae thot tambon, more than 300 kilometres away from his original habitat in the sanctuary. His ill-fated journey began with the search for food and ended on villagers’ farmland.

Wildlife authorities said they had tracked HKT-178 in the sanctuary, the largest habitat of Tigers, since 2011. Then he was captured on camera the following year in Mae Wong National Park on the northern border of Huai Kha Khaeng. Authorities lost track of him until this month.

The Lampang villagers found him suffering from exhaustion and hiding in a cassava plantation. They tried to save him from his wounds by calling for help from officials at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Unfortunately, HKT-178 was too weak and eventually lost the fight for his life.

The wounds suggested it was not the work of hunters, wildlife authorities said. It was more likely he was shot by a terrified villager out of self-defence.

In fact, the Tiger was the victim of economic development altering his natural habitat. He was not the first, nor the last, creature to die from this change.

Before this, several Elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) were killed when roaming into villagers’ farmland and plantations to get some food.

The Tiger’s fate highlights the importance of natural forest as a habitat for wildlife. The creature might have survived, had he not been lost while seeking his own territory – an instinctive drive of a wild beast – into human habitat.

His fate also highlights the need to nurture natural forest as a home for wildlife creatures. The fact is we have lost a vast area of forest reserve for infrastructure development projects such as dams, roads and highway construction, as well as uncontrolled expansion of human habitats.

Some roads and highways, like those in the Khao Yai area, disrupt the routes used by wild animals, resulting in dangerous human-animal confrontations.

In some areas, roads simply cut the forest into small fragments of land, which makes it difficult for nature to maintain a balance. Shrinking habitats, with dwindling food sources, put wildlife animals in a difficult situation. That’s the reason they end up roaming plantations that are scattered around their degraded habitat.

Besides, we should not forget that Mae Wong National Park in Nakhon Sawan, which serves as the buffer zone for the Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary, a world heritage site, is under threat from a dam project, proposed for decades by the Irrigation Department.

The dam will compromise the value of the park, which is now being nominated for a world heritage site in its own right. That means the home for Tigers will be further disturbed, and may no longer be suitable as a wildlife habitat.

Despite several public protests, the Irrigation Department has adamantly pushed for the controversial project, ignoring other alternatives, such as dams that are less destructive.

Now EIA studies for the Mae Wong project have been completed and are being considered by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s expert committee. It is hoped those experts will treasure the park and keep it, not just for the Tigers’ habitat, but for the sake of balanced development.

Source: Bangkok Post

A Fraser’s Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) with a wound stranded in Sitio Panubigon, Brgy. Lipata, Surigao City yesterday.

Source: Loel Joy Orzales Mesias, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines