A carcass of a Sea Turtle, apparently found in San Fernando. This is a different carcass from the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) found at Barangay Canaoay. The photos of this badly decomposing carcass don’t show the head very clearly, but the edge of the carapace does not look serrated, nor do the scutes appear to be overlapping, suggesting that this was a Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Source: Bombo Radyo La Union Facebook

Photo: BIAG – Barangay Information & Activities Group

Philippines: Dead Sea Turtle found in La Union
By Carmela Jimenez, 3rd November 2016;

The carcass of an adult Olive Ridley Sea Turtle was found floating along the shore of Barangay Canaoay, San Fernando City in La Union Tuesday afternoon.

According to Rolando Cunanan, he was about to take a bath at the beach when he saw the Turtle.

Pagpunta ko doon, gumanon ‘yung alon, nakita ko pawikan. Nakita ko ulo, sabi ko, patay na ‘to kako,” he said.

(When I went there, I saw the turtle. When I saw its head, I knew it’s dead.)

The Turtle weighed between 35 to 45 kilograms. It also had a wound on its head.

The residents believe that the Turtle got entangled in fishing gear. They later buried the dead Turtle.

On October 31, a male Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) was also washed up the shores in the same area. The residents tried to take it back to the water but it still died.

Based on the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network Database collated and analyzed by the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM) in the University of the Philippines Diliman, there were already 19 species of stranded cetaceans (Dolphins and Whales) recorded in Region 1.

Authorities told the public to handle marine mammals with caution. If in doubt, call authorities who have knowledge in rescuing stranded marine mammals.

Source: ABS-CBN News

The photo shared on the Barangay Information & Activities Group’s Facebook page, stated to be from Canaoay, shows that the one mentioned in the article is not an Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), but a Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Philippines: Pygmy Sperm Whale rescued in La Union
By William Jun Garcia, 3rd October 2016;

A 6.5-foot long baby Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) was rescued over the weekend by the La Union Rescue Team, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the City Fisheries and Aquatic Management Council (CFARMC) from coastal area in Carlatan Village in his city.

The Whale, which weighed 1,000 kilograms, had swum toward the shore and was discovered by a local fisherman who lives nearby.

According to Dr. Chris Apilado, a CFARMC veterinarian, the Whale bore two deep cuts, one near an eye and the other on the tail.

“Maybe it was caught and was being fished out from the water by handy fishing hook but it was able to wiggle out,” Apilado said, who closely examined the injuries while the Whale was still floating in the water.

Vanessa Bonitalla said her fisherman husband, Ding Carpio, saw the mammal at about 4 a.m., Friday, as soon as he woke up.

They rushed to the sea and were surprised to see an injured “Dolphin” and tried to push it farther into the sea but it could not move, so they called for help from village guards.

Sally Gacayan, a BFAR staff, said the Pygmy Sperm Whale would be brought to the BFAR custodial quarters in Casantaan village in Santo Tomas, La Union.

Gacayan said they would try to keep the mammal alive by first treating its wounds until it is strong enough to be released into the sea.

A vehicle from the La Union Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council transported the injured Whale, which was placed in a rubber boat filled with sea water.

The Pygmy Sperm Whale is one of the several aquatic species that is endangered.

It was the second stranded whale found in the coastal area.

In October 2014, a 12-ton, 20-foot long giant Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) died while it was being rescued by a backhoe and burly men at the nearby village of Lingsat Marine Sanctuary.

It was eventually buried in the village.

Source: The Manila Times

Philippines: Fishers rescue baby Whale
By Dexter A. See, 3rd October 2016;

A weak female baby Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) was found yesterday morning at the shoreline of Barangay Carlatan here with injuries on her tail and left eye.

Dr. Christopher Apilado of the city veterinary office, said the 6.5-feet-long Whale weighed around 100 kilos and had a body circumference of 45 inches.

It was found by residents at 4:00 a.m. Friday.

The Whale was brought to the facility of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Sto. Tomas, La Union by members of the City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council and the bureau.

Apilado said the Whale, which was about a year old, probably strayed from her mother.

“It looks like it was disturbed by fishermen who attempted to catch it as shown by the wounds caused by pointed object,” he said.

Source: The Standard

Philippines: Baby Whale rescued in La Union
By Jun Elias, 1st October 2016;

A female baby Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps), more than six feet long with 45 inches body circumference and weighing at least 1000 kilos, was found stranded yesterday morning at the shoreline of Barangay Carlatan here.

Christopher Apilado, of the city veterinary office, said the Whale, estimated to be a year old, might have strayed from her mother and could have been waylaid by fishermen as indicated by injuries on her tail and left eye caused by a pointed object.

The Whale was brought for treatment at the facility of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Sto. Tomas town by joint personnel of the City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council and BFAR.

Source: Northbound Philippines News Online

It is heartbreaking for CURMA to have found a mutilated sea turtle (pawikan) on the coast of San Juan, La Union.

Pawikans abound near coastal regions in preparation for their mating and nesting season which is deemed as from Sept – Jan in the West Philippine Sea. So I hope during these months, fishermen will be careful of their zones and jet skis should not be allowed to ply near the coastal zones.

Source: Regine Tibong Facebook

A decomposing body of an endangered Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) washed ashore in San Juan, La Union yesterday was reported by the conservation group Curma.

Source: Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

Philippines: No end yet to stranding of dolphins

By Yolanda Sotelo, 11th March 2015;

On Feb. 13 last year, a juvenile Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris), was found on the beach of Badoc town in Ilocos Norte. It had burns and was in need of immediate medical treatment and rehabilitation.

The female dolphin, named “Valentina” because she was found on the eve of Valentine’s Day, has since regained her health, but her hearing was impaired due to acoustic trauma caused by blast fishing.

Dr. Lemuel Aragones, president of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN), advised Valentina’s caretakers at a marine park in Zambales against returning her to the wild. When sea mammals lose their hearing, they also lose their capacity to navigate in the ocean and their abilities to find food and to socialize, he said.

“Julius,” a Fraser’s Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei), however, was not as lucky. He was one of 33 Fraser’s or Sarawak Dolphins that beached in the shores of the Lingayen Gulf from Pangasinan to La Union provinces from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5.

Julius was found on the Lingayen beach on Jan. 27 and was taken to Ocean Adventure Marine Park at Subic Freeport in Zambales for medical treatment. He died on Feb. 17.

According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), 22 of the dolphins had died while eight were released back to the sea. Two were seen alive in the Lingayen Gulf, while Julius died while undergoing treatment.

It looks like there’s no end yet to marine mammal stranding in the gulf.

On Feb. 20, “April,” a Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis), was rescued by the PMMSN and local government workers in Sinait, Ilocos Sur province. It was later transferred to a fishpond to allow better rehabilitation.

Unabated blast fishing

In a letter to Nestor Domenden, BFAR Ilocos regional director, Aragones said that while treating the stressed and sick April, he and two other responders heard dynamite blasts in the sea.

“This happened after I interviewed a few locals who admitted that dynamite fishing is still being practiced in their area,” Aragones, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, said.

The Ilocos region has had the highest rate of marine mammal stranding in the country in the past five years, most probably because of unabated blast fishing, he said in a telephone interview. He said the dolphin beaching in La Union (two towns) and Pangasinan (nine towns) this year may have been caused by blast fishing.

“When blasting occurs even far from where they are located, sea mammals lose their balance, fall on their side and their noses get clogged and they cannot breathe. This is much like humans, when we sleep on our side and when our noses get clogged so we can’t breathe,” Aragones said.

He said marine mammal stranding and deaths were just the “visible” manifestations of how blast fishing was killing marine animals.

Bigger problems

“There are deeper and bigger problems [due to the impact] of blasting, such as destruction of corals and killing of all kinds of fish, including the larvae or eggs. But these are not given much attention. Since people react passionately when sea mammals are killed, we are using [cases of] marine mammal stranding to call attention to illegal fishing’s serious effects on marine life,” he said.

After the beaching of the 33 Fraser’s Dolphins in January, the BFAR sent investigation teams to the different coastal towns along the Lingayen Gulf.

Their findings confirmed rampant blast fishing in the gulf facing the West Philippine Sea, said Dr. Samantha Licudine, a veterinarian of the BFAR regional office.

Marine mammals are attracted to the Lingayen Gulf when “acetes” (baby shrimps) are plenty, like when a pod of Fraser’s Dolphins was first seen in the waters off Aringay and Agoo towns in La Union on Jan. 26, said Belmor Bugawan, acting head of the fishery resources management division of the BFAR in the Ilocos.

Manuel Ugaban, Aringay municipal agriculture officer, said the dolphins that beached in Barangay (village) Alaska, where blast fishing was once rampant, had wounds that could have been caused by spears or shrapnel from homemade explosives.

“Maybe they got tangled in some nets, or some unscrupulous fishermen pierced them with sharp objects, so they swam to the shore,” he said.

Alaska residents no longer hurt marine mammals, believing that the sea was claiming large sections of their village whenever there is storm surge due to their illegal deeds in the past, Ugaban said.

“Residents now refuse to eat meat of sea mammals,” he said. “Nobody would even buy dolphin meat in the market.”

Aragones said the PMMSN would help the BFAR, local governments and fishing communities in the Ilocos stop or reduce incidents of blast fishing to ensure a healthy coastal and marine environment in the region.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippines: No end yet to stranding of dolphins

Philippines: Fish kill affects ponds in 2 La Union barangays

By Joel Locsin, 26th February 2015;

A fish kill has affected the fish pens in at least two barangays in San Fernando City in La Union province, a television report said Wednesday.

Local fishermen blamed the hot weather in recent days, according to a report on GMA News TV’s “Balita Pilipinas Ngayon.”

The fishermen said there had been no rain in the area for a long time, and the land had dried up.

Some fish pen owners have resorted to harvesting their fish early even if the fish are still small.

The local government has not yet commented on the situation, the report said.

Source: GMA News Online

Based on the news clip posted on the site, the fishes affected appear to be Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.).

Philippines: Fish kill affects ponds in 2 La Union barangays

Photo by Martin Alayban

A total of 26 dolphins stranded in 13 different barangay/towns in La Union and Pangasinan on January 26 and 27. 13 were immediately released, 12 died, and 1 is currently being rehabilitated by PMMSN headed by BFAR 1.

Source: Friends of PMMSN – Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network Facebook