STRANDED. Rescue workers help stabilize a wounded Dolphin stranded in a coastal village in Surigao City. Shell gatherers found the Dolphin trashing in knee-deep waters early morning Thursday (26 January 2017). The Dolphin eventually died late in the afternoon.
Photo: Roel N. Catoto

Philippines: Cause of stranded Dolphin’s death in Surigao investigated
By Roel Catoto, 27th January 2017;

Experts have started an investigation on what caused the death of the Dolphin which was stranded Thursday morning in Surigao City.

The Dolphin suffered a wound above its flukes and died Thursday after hours of efforts to resuscitate it.

Dr. Leona Nortega, a veterinarian at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Caraga Region told MindaNews Friday via text message that they have made a necropsy on the mammal.

“We collected some samples for laboratory analysis, we will forward the samples to the central office for histopathology,” she said.

Norteg identified the distressed mammal as a Fraser’s Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei), not a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops sp.) as reported Thursday.

Jordan Mendoza and three companions found the Dolphin as it was struggling in knee-deep waters off the sandy beach between sitios Panumbuyon and Panubigon in Barangay Lipata around 5:30 a.m. yesterday. It had a wound on the upper rear part of its body near its tail flukes.

The four, who were gathering shells then, immediately contacted authorities for help.

Chief Insp. Joel V. Liong, of the Surigao City Police Station, measured the Dolphin at 7 feet and 1 inch long, a body circumference of 43 inches and width of 13.5 inches at its widest part.

He said the five-inch wide wound was being swarmed by sand fleas locally known as “bukto.”

Rollie Dizon, a resident of Panubigon who were among the first few who responded to the call for help, said the Dolphin looked frail and kept on vomiting blood.

Some Surigaonons felt sad over the death of the mammal.

Enna Batalzar, a college student, said there should have been a facility and competent personnel who could handle stranded sea animals.

Megan Villasor, a resident of Barangay Washington, said she cried upon seeing the dead Dolphin.

AA Yaptinchay, director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, a nongovernment organization advocating awareness on the conservation and protection of marine wildlife in the country told MindaNews that dolphins are among the many sea creatures that have been affected by marine environmental destruction and pollution.

“There are potentially more than 30 marine mammals in the Philippins. However, populations of Dolphins, Whales and the Dugong (Dugong dugon) have declined due to threats such as poaching, bycatch, pollution, and habitat destruction, among others. Moreover, a lot of the marine mammal stranding seem to be human-induced,” MWWP said.

“If humans are the cause of such threats and stranding incidents, humans could also be part of the solution. The Aquatic Marine Wildlife Rescue and Response Manual on Marine Mammals will benefit people working in coastal resource management programs, marine protected areas (MPA), and MPA networks by helping them rescue and release marine mammals back in the wild where they can continue to make significant contributions to the health of the marine ecosystem,” the group said.

Yaptinchay added more and more threats are present in Philippine seas, affecting already dwindling populations of marine wildlife. It is expected that vulnerable species will be affected by threats such as trash, habitat degradation and increasing boat traffic.

Incidents such as Dolphin stranding are expected to occur more often, he said.

“These protected species need to be handled properly in terms of the response such as rescue, data collection, crowd control and awareness raising. Procedures for the response to marine mammals, marine turtles, and sharks and rays can be found in manuals published by Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines with the Department of Agriculture and the DENR. All manuals are free to download from the MWWP website,” he said.

The response manual to marine mammal incidents can be accessed at http://mwwphilippines.org/2015/04/14/philippine-aquatic-wildlife-rescue-and-response-manual-to-marine-mammal-incidents/.

Source: MindaNews

  1. Rescue workers help stabilize the wounded Dolphin
  2. The Dolphin’s wound.
  3. STRANDED. Rescue workers help stabilize a wounded Dolphin stranded in a coastal village in Surigao City. Shell gatherers found the dolphin trashing in knee-deep waters early morning Thursday (26 January 2017). The dolphin eventually died late in the afternoon.

Photos: Roel N. Catoto

Philippines: Rescued wounded Dolphin in Surigao City dies
By Roel Catoto, 26th January 2017;

The wounded Bottlenose Fraser’s Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) rescued in the shallow waters of a coastal village here earlier today died around 4:30 p.m.

This was confirmed by Pinky Amarille of the City Quick Action Response Team and Racquel Curtis, barangay captain of Lipata where the Dolphin was found.

Necropsy was reportedly conducted on the Dolphin, which was then buried at the shoreline of Sitio Panubigon in Lipata.

The Fraser’s Dolphin was found by Jordan Mendoza Abapo and three companions as it was thrashing in knee-deep waters off the sandy beach between sitio Panumbuyon and Panubigon in Barangay Lipata around 5:30 a.m. The shell gatherers immediately contacted authorities for help.

It had a wound on the upper rear part of its body near its tail flukes.

“It was a pitiful sight, the dolphin Dolphin to keep alive. We immediately tried to rescue it and called the attention of the authorities,” Abapo said.

Abapo said the Dolphin was cooperative. “We told him that we will help him and he responded with his sounds,” he said.

Chief Insp. Joel V. Liong, of the Surigao City Police Station, measured the Dolphin at 7 feet and 1 inch long, a body circumference of 43 inches and width of 13.5 inches at its widest part.

He said the five-inch wide wound was being swarmed by sand flea locally known as “bukto.”

“The wound is old and seems to be healing,” Liong said.

The Surigao City Quick Action Response Team stayed by the Dolphin’s side to nurse it back to health, but to no avail.

Rollie Dizon, a resident of Panubigon who were among the first few who responded to the call for help, said the Dolphin looked frail and kept on vomiting blood.

“It has a few scratches on his face and body. I hope it survives,” he said then.

Dr. Leona Nortega, a veterinarian of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Caraga Region based in Surigao City, advised those helping the mammal to keep its blowhole above the water and for people around it to stay quiet.

She was planning to look for an inflatable pool to nurse the Dolphin there because the water was choppy and only aggravated the Dolphin’s stress.

Had the Dolphin survived and regained its health, it would have been eventually released back to the sea. “That’s the procedure,” Nortega said.

Source: MindaNews

A photograph shared on the Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook page shows that this is a Fraser’s Dolphin, not a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops sp.).

Residents gather around the 14-foot Crocodile found dead in a mangrove area of Del Carmen town in Siargao Island last Thursday (27 October 2016).
Photos: Vincent E. Guarte

Philippines: Fisherfolks in Siargao afraid to venture in mangrove areas after giant Crocodile found dead
By Roel Catoto, 29th October 2016;

A day after a big Crocodile was found dead in Del Carmen town in Siargao Island, several fishermen from the island have been afraid to venture out in the mangrove forest to fish, a village official said.

Ezperanza barangay captain Teodoro Galolo said several fisherfolks in his village have ceased to go to the mangroves for fear of being attacked by Crocodiles.

Last Thursday morning, a Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) 14 feet and 9 inches long was found dead floating along the waterways by the mangroves in Esperanza. The fishermen who found it then reported it to Galolo, the barangay captain said.

On that day, barangay tanods and some personnel from the Sentro Para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya (Sikat), a non-government organization conducting mangrove assessment in the area, retrieved the dead body of the Crocodile.

“We measured it at 14 feet and 9 inches long, and 2 feet and 8 inches wide,” said Jenny Comon, the barangay secretary of Esperanza.

Galolo said the Crocodile must have died only recently because its body was still not in a state of decomposition when found.

Barangay Esperanza is eight kilometers away from the Del Carmen town center.

“Some of the fishermen have ceased to catch fish and crabs in the mangroves for fear of being attacked by Crocodiles,” Galolo said.

But Jun Comon, a fishermen from Esperanza, said he would continue to fish in the mangroves despite the presence of large Crocodiles, pointing out that his source of income comes mainly from catching Mud Crabs (Scylla sp.) and fish in the mangrove area.

“We know the presence of Crocodiles lurking in the vast mangrove area and that’s part of the challenge. We’re used to it. We need to face it otherwise we go hungry with my family,” he said.

Galolo said they do not know yet the cause of Crocodile’s death.

Missing piglets

Galolo said several villagers have reported that a few months ago, several pigs and piglets had mysteriously gone missing and they believe that it has something to do with presence of Crocodiles lurking around the mangroves.

He said some fishermen had reported having seen Crocodiles even bigger than the one found dead last Thursday.

Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro Jr. said the incident is a major drawback on the town’s efforts on environmental conservation.

“Our personnel, together with those of the non-government organizations and of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), are checking for any foul play that might have caused the death of the Crocodile. I am pushing that the incident be investigated,” the mayor said.

On Friday, a necropsy was conducted by DENR personnel to determine its cause of death, but no result has been released yet as of press time.

“Even though the death is tragic but this will serve as a reminder that the presence of Crocodiles in Del Carmen is not just a legend but a reality and that people should be careful not to swim in the mangrove area as it would be an accident waiting to happen. Such incident would only hamper and create problems for our protection and conservation efforts,” said Coro.

Dianne Animo, program manager of Sikat, expressed that the death of the Crocodile signifies the importance of protection and conservation in Del Carmen.

“This incident signifies the need for a more intensified operation in safeguarding the remaining local population of Saltwater Crocodiles in the wild. It is also significant to point out that the community should be a part of this effort to protect and conserve not only this species but the entire ecosystem,” said Animo.

Fishermen, on the other hand, have reported sightings of the Crocodiles along the mangrove areas in several other barangays in Del Carmen town – Mabuhay, Del Carmen (poblacion), Domoyog Island, San Fernando, Sitio Pangi Antipolo and in San Jose.

Reports also suggest Crocodile sightings in the mangrove areas in the neighboring town of San Benito.

The local government of Del Carmen is planning to preserve the dead Crocodile and display it at the town’s Mangrove Protection Information Center.

‘Witches’ in town

In the past, Del Carmen was known to have witches because of reports of several persons that have reportedly gone missing.

Lawyer John Cubillan, who hails from Del Carmen, said that “Numancia” (the old name of the municipality) was notorious for being a town haunted by aswangs, manananggals and other monsters of local folklore.

That tag may have stemmed from the mysterious disappearance of residents, which were later traced to attacks by Crocodiles lurking in the vast mangrove forests surrounding the town.

Radel Paredes, a columnist of Cebu Daily News whose roots come from Del Carmen, said his grandfather was attacked by a big Crocodile.

“My grandfather was once attacked by a Crocodile while he was rowing a baroto or dugout canoe amidst the mangroves. Luckily, he was able to fight back and drove the reptile away,” he claimed.

Killer turns breeder

In early 1990s a Crocodile named “Kibol” (bobtail) grabbed the headlines in the country after it was captured.

The Crocodile terrorized the coastal towns in Siargao Island at that time for attacking humans.

A 2003 report in the Philippine Star said Kibol has been serving a “lifetime sentence” as the principal breeder in a Crocodile farm in Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Kibol is a 20-foot killer reptile, which was captured by a special team of Crocodile hunters along the swamps in Del Carmen. It is reportedly now busy “impregnating” young female Crocodiles in the farm.

Source: MindaNews

Philippines: BFAR says fish kill in Lake Mainit due to low dissolved oxygen


By Roel Catoto, 20th December 2015;

The incidents of fish kill in Lake Mainit have been traced to low dissolved oxygen in the country’s fourth largest lake, initial findings of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-(BFAR) Caraga said.

Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and Carp (F. Cyprinidae) have been found floating dead in Lake Mainit since a month ago.

The fish kill has affected the livelihood of hundreds of fisherfolk who depend on the lake for their livelihood.

Fisherfolk in towns of Mainit and Alegria in Surigao del Norte including Kitcharao and Jabongga in Agusan del Norte had earlier said they suspect mining activities upstream are to blame for the fish kill.

Dr. Anne Melisa Talavera, officer-in-charge of BFAR’s Regional Fish Health Laboratory of BFAR, told MindaNews Friday that parts of the lake have low dissolved oxygen, at two parts per million (ppm), from the normal level of at least four ppm.

She said bigger Tilapia need more dissolved oxygen to survive.

“That’s exactly one of the reasons why bigger ones are affected by the fish kill in Lake Mainit,” she said.

Using Hach Water Test Kit, Talaver said they conducted an inspection on November 26, December 3, and 9 in the towns of Alegria and Mainit in Surigao del Norte and in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte on December 16.

BFAR also took samples of water and samples of dead fish for laboratory examinations in Manila.

Nerio Casil, Director of BFAR-Caraga told MindaNews last Thursday that they also tested the water for presence of heavy metals.

“Water and fish are also checked for bacterial analysis,” he said.

Casil debunked reports that their office has done nothing on the fish kill.

“Right after we received information, we immediately acted on it,” he said.

Casil reacted to a statement of Judith Rojas, assistant director of BFAR-Caraga. Rojas last week that their office did not receive any request letter from affected local government units.

“We made an effort immediately. In fact, we are waiting for the results this week from Manila,” Casil said.

Dissolved oxygen levels

Darwin Brain Lawas, a marine biologist of Green Mindanao Association said fish growth usually requires 5 to 6 ppm of dissolved oxygen.

“Dissolved oxygen levels below 3 ppm are stressful to most aquatic organisms. Levels below 2 ppm will not support fish at all,” he said.

There are lots of causes why dissolved oxygen gets low in a body of water. He cited sudden change of water temperature, purity level, algal bloom, soil erosion and siltation.

Talavera said they should have gotten water samples a few days into the fish kill.

“The report came to us late because it was two weeks after the fish kill,” she said.

Talavera stressed that water parameters such as total suspended solids and total dissolved solids were not included in their tests, adding other agencies could do it.

The BFAR-Caraga could not give the exact number of affected fisherfolk in the lake towns despite having launched a program a year ago, to register the number of fisherfolk per municipality.

‘Don’t eat the fish’

Talavera advised residents not to eat the floating dead fish.

“It’s not advisable to eat the dead ones especially those in a state of decomposition,” she said.

She urged fishermen to retrieve the dead fish and bury them to avoid the spread of bacteria.

Talavera said she has not received reports of people who got sick from eating freshly-caught Tilapia from the lake.

But majority of the people around Lake Mainit have tried not to eat the fish, waiting for official announcement from the BFAR.

As of Saturday, BFAR has not released the results of the laboratory analysis.

Economically affected

Fisherfolk around Lake Mainit are spending a bleak Christmas due to the fish kill.

Junmar Mosende, 33, a fish vendor at the public market said that since the fish kill a month ago, it’s been a month of low incomes for them.

Mosende sells Tilapia at for 60 per kilo, from P120 to P140 per kilo before the fish kill.

Malabo ang pamasko namo ini kay alkansi sa tinda,” (We have a sad Christmas bccause of our losses), he said.

Some eateries here have been abstaining from cooking Tilapia.

Nora Ga, a worker of Hill Top Food House, said they have not cooked Tilapia since the fish kill occurred.

Fishermen in Barangay San Roque here said this fish kill have adversely affected their livelihood.

Rallies vs mining

“The fish kill has taken its toll on us. Our catch has dwindled. No fishermen could get 10 kilos a day,” said Danilo Alcantara, a village councilor and fisherman.

Alcantara said he would join rallies calling for a stop to mining activities upstream.

“There is an obvious pollution along Magpayang River and the runoff settles into the lake,” he said.

Last week, fisherman Nicolas Goliat, recalled that on normal days, they could earn at least 350 pesos every day for five kilos of Tilapia which they sell at 70 per kilo.

Goliat said most of the fisherfolk believe the fish kill was due to the mining operations since a similar incident happened during the operations of Surigao Resources Consolidated (Suricon) in the 1970s to early 1990s.

But Goliat said the current fish kill is not as bad as in the past when Suricon was operating.

Sauna hurot gyod ang tanan isda sa danao. Lapornas gayod pati pa ang ulang” (In the past, all the fishes in the lake were killed, including the freshwater shrimps).

As of Thursday, Alcantara said they could still see dead fish floating.

Eljoy Azarcon, a fisherman in San Roque said there are more than a hundred fishermen in their village.

“We have more than a hundred boats as you can see along the lakeshore, we rely on the lake for livelihood. Without it, we cannot survive,” he said.

Source: MindaNews

Philippines: BFAR says fish kill in Lake Mainit due to low dissolved oxygen

Philippines: Mayor asks NGOs to probe fish kill in Lake Mainit

14th December 2015;

Citing the town’s lack of technical capability, Mayor Ramon Mondanao has asked non-government organizations to investigate what caused the massive fish kill in Lake Mainit.

Tilapias (Oreochromis sp.) and carps (F. Cyprinidae) have been dying starting three weeks ago in the fourth largest lake in the country.

The fishkill has affected the livelihood of hundreds of fisher folk that depend on the lake.

Mondano was reacting to the statement of Judith Rojas, assistant regional director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Caraga that the agency has not acted on the incident as there was no request from among the local government units.

But Anne Melisa Talavera, officer-in-charge of BFAR’s Regional Fish Health Laboratory told MindaNews in a text message Sunday that they got samples of the fish two weeks ago and these are being studied for analysis in Manila.

With the contradicting statements, the mayor said it would be better to have an independent body investigate the fish kill.

He said he is hoping NGOs would help while he is searching for institutions that can do laboratory analysis of the samples.

Townsfolk including the mayor himself suspected that the fishkill was caused by mining activities upstream.

Fisherfolk like Rolando Zamora of Poblacion in Mainit town recalled the worst fishkill in the lake occurred during the operations of Surigao Resources Consolidated (Suricon) in the 1970s to the early 1990s.

Zamora said it was worse then because almost all of the fish died.

He said he was wondering why the Tilapias got so weak that one could easily catch them.

He said they noticed that the gills of the fish turned white as if they were hit by cyanide.

He was also wondering why it was the big ones and not the small ones that were affected.

Most fisherfolk in Alegria and Mainit towns have not gone fishing since the fishkill hit the lake.

Prices of fish like Tilapia went down to 40 pesos per kilo.

“Most people would no longer eat the fish because they are afraid of getting poisoned too,” Zamora said.

The fishkill also happened in Kitcharao and Jabonga towns in Agusan del Norte which are also along the lake, affecting the lives of many fisherfolk.

John Simbajon, a collector from a lending company told MindaNews that their clients could not pay their “arawan” (daily dues) for their loan because of the fish kill.

“Some of our clients who rely on the lake for their livelihood could not pay their debts. We pity them,” he said.

Polluted

Greenstone Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Red5 Limited, an Australian-based gold exploration and mining company, is currently mining gold and silver at the abandoned minesite of Suricon in Barangay Siana in Mainit.

Fisherfolk said Greenstone’s operations have polluted Magpayang River, the runoff from which would settle in the lake.

“We used to swim and fetch water for household use there but now it’s so murky. We don’t even allow our carabaos (Water Buffalo) (Bubalus bubalis) to bathe there,” a resident named Goliat said.

Faustino Ladaga, a farmer in Pungtod, Alegria recalled the times when water running along Magpayang River was clear.

“I recalled the fun times along the river. We used to swim there because it’s clear, but now its turbid and useless,” he said.

MindaNews sent queries to Simon Leech, mine manager of Greenstone, but he has yet to reply.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on June 6, 2013, issued a cease-and-desist order on the gold processing operations of Greenstone in Barangay Siana after a tension crack was found on the embankment of its tailings storage facility no. 4.

In January 2015, the MGB allowed Greenstone to resume its gold processing operations after constructing a new tailings storage facility and implementing other remedial measures.

Mondano said tailings would spill during heavy rains.

Source: MindaNews

Philippines: Mayor asks NGOs to probe fish kill in Lake Mainit

Dead fish found floating Saturday in Lake Mainit, Surigao del Norte, the fourth largest lake in the country. The fishkill started three weeks ago. The fishkill has adversely affected the livelihood of residents along the lakeshore towns.
Photos: Roel N. Catoto

Philippines: Mayor, fisherfolk suspect mining caused fishkill in Lake Mainit
By Roel Catoto, 14th December 2015;

The mayor of Mainit town and fisherfolk living around Lake Mainit want to know if mining operations upstream caused the massive fishkill of thousands of Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and Carp (F. Cyprinidae) in the last three weeks.

Mainit mayor Ramon Mondano told MindaNews on Saturday evening that they have yet to determine the cause of the massive fishkill but he suspects it may have something to do with operations of mining companies upstream.

Mondano said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has not submitted a report on the fishkill even as it had taken samples for laboratory analysis.

The fishkill has adversely affected the livelihood of fisherfolk in the area, he said.

Mondano said he received reports that at the height of heavy rains, the tailings pond of Greenstone Resources, Inc., spilled over into the lake.

Kada kusog ang ulan naa sila moagas ang ilang tailings>” (Each time it rains heavily, the tailings pond spills over), Mondano said.

Alegria town Mayor Dominador Esma Jr. said “there are lots of people economically affected by this sad incident.”

Fisherman Alberto Galindo, 58, a resident of Barangay Pungtod in Alegria town said he used to catch five to ten kilos of fish for selling every day but “karon wala na kay nangamatay lagi” (but none now because they died).

Galindo is not alone.

“Blue Christmas”

“This will be a blue Christmas,” fish vendor and fisherman Rolando Zamora, also of Pungtod, said. “No one is eating fish. We can’t sell fish,” he said.

Fisherman Nicolas Goliat, recalls having been surprised that the the fishes looked weak and eventually died.

Karon nangabutod na intawon naa nanglutaw diha sa kilid sa danao ang uban napadpad sa lawod” (Now you see bloated fish floating dead in the lake, some near the shore, some at the deeper part), he said.

Goliat recalled that on normal days, they could earn at least 350 pesos every day for five kilos of Tilapia which they could sell to buyers at 70 per kilo.

They are also wondering why only the bigger Tilapia are affected.

“The smaller ones are okay. But those 200 grams up to a kilo or more died,” he said.

Goliat said most of the fisherfolk believe the fishkill was due to the mining operations since a similar incident happened during the operations of Surigao Resources Consolidated (Suricon) in the 1970s to early 1990s.

But Goliat said the current fishkill is not as bad as in the past when Suricon was operating.

Sauna hurot gyod ang tanan isda sa danao. Lapornas gayod pati pa ang ulang.” (In the past, all the fishes in the lake were killed, including the freshwater shrimps).

Polluted

Greenstone Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Red5 Limited, an Australian-based gold exploration and mining company, is currently mining gold and silver at the abandoned minesite of Suricon in Barangay Siana.

Fisherfolk said Greenstone’s operations are causing pollution of Magpayang River.

Anha kami maligo, maglaba ug magkuha og tubig panggamit sa balay pero karon lubog na bisan karabaw dili na namo ipakaligo diha,” said Goliat. (We used to swim and fetch water for household use but now it’s so murky, we don’t allow our Carabao (Water Buffalo) (Bubalus bubalis) to bathe there).

MindaNews sent queries to Simon Leech, mine manager of Greenstone, but Leech has yet to reply.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on June 6, 2013, issued a cease-and-desist order on the gold processing operations of Greenstone in Barangay Siana after a tension crack was found on the embankment of its tailings storage facility (TSF) No. 4.

In January 2015, the MGB allowed Greenstone Resources Corporation to resume its gold processing operations after constructing a new tailings storage facility and implementing other remedial measure, the Philippine Star reported.

Nerio Casil, BFAR-Caraga regional director could not be reached for comment as he was out of town, attending an affair in Negros.

“No complaint, no action”

Judith Rojas, assistant regional director of BFAR-Caraga said no action has been taken by their office because they did not receive any written request from among the local government units.

“Wala kaming natanggap na request from LGUs kaya wala kaming aksyon dyan,” Rojas said on Friday afternoon.

Anne Melisa Talavera, officer-in-charge of Regional Fish Health Laboratory told MindaNews in a text message Sunday that they got samples of the fish two weeks ago and these are being studied for analysis in Manila.

“Hopefully next week the result is available,” she said.

Source: MindaNews

Philippines: Crocs, humans compete for food in Siargao’s Paghungawan Marsh

By Roel Catoto, 30th September 2014;

Some residents fish in Paghungawan Marsh in Jaboy, Siargao Island, but Philippine Crocodiles (Crocodylus mindorensis) also hunt for food in the same environs, setting off a competition that appears to have put the endangered predators at a disadvantage.

Thirty-six year-old crocodiles, comprising 30 females and six males which were bred in captivity, were freed in the marshland on March 22 last year.

The crocodiles belong to the species Crocodylus mindorensis, considered one of the most threatened in the world.

But at least two of those crocodiles died either in January or February this year after they got entangled in a fisherman’s net, village chair Narda E. Trego said. She added the marsh had plenty of water at the time since it was rainy season.

During the rainy season Paghungawan Marsh would have at least 600 hectares covered with water. Its area would shrink to around 120 hectares in the dry season.

Trego said a few villages still fish in the marsh, but they have regulated fishing activities through a barangay ordinance passed in August last year that bans the use of nets, tubli (poison) and big hooks.

“We are implementing our barangay ordinance because this reptile is rare and endangered and it’s protected by law,” she said.

She said some people in their village still could not understand the importance of the crocodiles, and they would get angry whenever they are told not to do fishing.

She said the crocodiles now now have a better habitat in this village.

“It was just unfortunate that two were killed, but we hope that it will never happen again,” she added.

A resident who requested anonymity said only around 20 of the reptiles were left in the marsh due to fishing.

Bred in captivity

The 36 crocodiles were bred at Pagasa Farms in Kapalong, Davao del Norte from the offspring of the stock loaned to it by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They were released in the marsh by the DENR, National Museum and Crocodylus Porosus Philippines Inc., which operates Pagasa Farms.

The Philippine Crocodile enjoys legal protection under Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and other Philippine laws, according to the DENR. It is also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

These reptiles shy away from humans and so don’t pose danger to residents.

According to Wikipedia, the Philippine Crocodile is a relatively small, freshwater crocodile. They have a relatively broad snout and thick bony plates on its back (heavy dorsal armor). This is a fairly small species, reaching breeding maturity at 1.5 m (4.9 ft) and 15 kg (33 lb) in both sexes and a maximum size of approximately 3.1 m (10 ft). Females are slightly smaller than males. Philippine Crocodiles are golden-brown in color, which darkens as it matures.

Crocodile watching

Trego said a local organization called Jaboy Ecotourism Conservation Organization (JICO) helps protect the crocodiles.

JICO treasurer Nelia Salavaloza said the presence of the crocodiles in their marshland has turned their village into a tourism site.

“We offer crocodile watching at night in the marshland and boating during the day at a very affordable price,” Salvaloza said.

This attraction started in August this year. For P400 pesos, two persons can enjoy a 30-minute ride and crocodile watching.

Salavaloza said some foreigners who had tried the crocodile watching at night were amazed by the crocodiles.

She told some villagers to refrain from fishing saying they would still benefit from the visiting tourists in their area.

“We allow everyone from this village to tour visitors in the marshland,” she added.

Source: MindaNews

Philippines: Crocs, humans compete for food in Siargao’s Paghungawan Marsh