Photo: Dr. Jeneveve Sulliva, via Friends of PMMSN – Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network Facebook

Philippines: Beached Pilot Whale rescued in Ilocos Norte
6th December 2017;

Authorities rescued a female Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) found beached in Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

At about 6:00 a.m., coastal residents in Salugan village tried to get near the stranded marine mammal but due to strong winds, it was drifted to the sandy shores of Barangay Victoria, in front of the Sitio Remedios Resort in Currimao town.

The locals reported the incident to concerned authorities, responders for endangered marine mammals in the province immediately proceeded to the area to rescue the stranded whale.

One of the responders, Provincial Fisheries and Regulatory Officer Arthur Valente, said in an interview that the endangered marine animal is now recovering. “She can now float while supportive care is being administered,” he said of the Whale.

Valente added that the responders are still doing their best to stabilize the stranded marine animal before they can release it back to the open sea.

Representatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, local government units, village officials, Philippine Maritime, fisherfolk community and the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network based in the province are jointly conducting monitoring of the stranded Whale.

Based on initial assessment, Valente said the Pilot Whale appeared to be stressed and had bruises around the face.

Over the years, Ilocos Norte has been considered as one of the hot spots for stranded marine mammals, with a number of them successfully rehabilitated and released.

Source: PageOne.ph

Photos: Dr. Jeneveve Sulliva

A 3.85 m adult female Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) stranded in Gaang Bay, Currimao, Ilocos Norte this morning. The animal was released but restranded. PMMSN 1 lead by BFAR 1, LGU-Currimao, PVO and OPAG of Ilocos Norte, Brgy. VIctoria officials and fisherfolks are attending to the animal.

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

Update, 6th December 2017 16:43

We regret to inform everyone that this Pilot Whale died early this morning. Necropsy is currently being conducted by Dr. Jeneveve Suliva and her team from the PVO of Ilocos Norte.

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

Photos: Bong De Castro Gutierrez

A rough-toothed dolphin also stranded in Palauig, Zambales last January 18, 2017. It was thin, weak, and had marks of shark bites. The local government units and agencies responded to the stranding but it died shortly after it was found.

Many thanks to the efforts of the staff and personnel of Provincial Fisheries Office of Zambales, Municipal Agriculture Office of Palauig, Mayor Billy Aceron, Cong. Cherryl Deloso-Manatalla, and Gov Amor Deloso.

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

Late post… A female Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) (?) stranded at Igacos in the Island Garden City of Samal last January 2, 2017. The City Agriculture Office of Samal and Philippine Coast Guard responded to the event. Unfortunately, the animal died a few hours later. BFAR region 11 conducted the necropsy.

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

Some of the discussion on the Facebook post suggests that this might be a Long-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis tropicalis).

Photo: Dr. Christopher Luyong

An adult female Dwarf Sperm Whale (Kogia sima) stranded in Manicahan, Zamboanga City two days ago (November 21). This animal died a few hours later.

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

Photos: Dr. Jenwit Wanich

As the participants of the Southeast Asian Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SEAMMSN) gather during the symposium in Pattaya, Thailand, our friends at the PMBC rescued and are rehabilitating a stranded Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata) in Phuket.

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

Photos: Joy Lanzon Estrada

A 3.3 meter Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) (to be confirmed) stranded yesterday afternoon in Libjo, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Sur. First responders are currently attending to the animal while the veterinary team of BFAR 13 are not yet on site.

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

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

Philippines: A killed Hero
By Michael L. Tan, 26th October 2016;

Each year, dozens of marine mammals — including some 30 species of Dolphins and Whales, plus the Dugong (Dugong dugon) and the Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus) — are stranded on Philippine shores. Between 2005 and 2016, there were 692 such incidents documented by the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN), which sends rescue teams and then initiates treatment and rehabilitation.

One of those stranded mammals was Hero, a male Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis) that was found in Calapandayan, Subic, Zambales, on April 9, 2015 (Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor).

There are popular misconceptions that these stranding incidents involve animals trying to commit suicide, but the real story is that these animals strand because of human activities. To be blunt, they don’t kill themselves; they’re killed.

Human garbage

In the case of Hero and many other stranded mammals, dynamite fishing led to acoustic trauma or damage in the animals, which then adversely affected their navigational capabilities. We tend to think of our ears only for hearing, but vertebrates, including humans, depend on the inner ear for balance. Vertigo, with symptoms like dizziness, results from a problem with the inner ear — a common problem among the elderly.

Hero was treated by PMMSN members — Dr. Leo Jonathan Suarez and a team of veterinarians connected with Ocean Adventure in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone — and seemed to be recovering well. But on Nov. 8, they noticed that he was not eating and appeared to be in pain. He seemed to be retching, trying to vomit something from his gut.

Hero’s condition improved for a few days around the third week of November, but then he stopped eating again. A few days later, the vets saw him trembling, swimming erratically, and retching for about five hours, before dying. The Dolphin died on Nov. 30, Bonifacio Day.

The vets performed an autopsy and found a piece of plastic in Hero’s throat. Down the esophagus, they found nylon and more plastic, all of which had ended up into a ball that obstructed the digestive tract. Hero had choked to death on human garbage.

It was not the first time the PMMSN found such garbage in stranded marine mammals. It’s hard to estimate how many of the mammals also ingest the garbage out at sea, and how many survive, or die. Other marine mammals strand because they get entangled in fishing nets and gear. Still others strand because they are ill, sometimes because of infections, other times because of chemical toxins from humans.

I listened to the report on Hero during a PMMSN conference held earlier this month in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. I attended mainly because the PMMSN is based in UP Diliman’s Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, and I was asked to deliver a keynote speech and a paper as well. I decided to stay on because I was curious about PMMSN activities.

It was an eye-opener. Stranded marine mammals are an example of why we need to have more One Health efforts, linking human medicine, veterinary medicine, and, the most neglected, environmental health concerns.

Paper after paper delivered at the conference showed how our neglect of the environment affects human and nonhuman animals. On my first day in Vigan, Dr. Lem told me that he and his team were treating a stranded Whale in Pangasinan for a respiratory infection, and were using ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. I asked how they chose their antibiotics, and he said it’s actually been a problem with some of the mammals because they’re showing resistance to some of the drugs.

I was surprised. Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem now with humans because of misuse (over-prescription, self-medication). How could this happen with marine mammals?

Dr. Lem reminded me that the ocean is one large sink for human garbage and a host of chemicals from antibiotics to pesticides, and so it is not surprising that marine mammals are put in harm’s way as well. A paper read in the conference by chemist J. L. Bondoc talked about the human “cocktail of chemicals” that gets into the sea and affects marine mammals. She showed slides of the animals’ damaged livers, which were correlated with high levels of toxic chemicals.

Vet med

My first degree was in veterinary medicine. I was trained to treat dogs and cats, cows, pigs and horses, even carabaos — all mammals — plus a few birds, mainly chickens. When I got to Vigan, the first person I was introduced to was Dr. Nestor Domenden, the director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the Ilocos. The bureau was coordinating much of the work with the PMMSN, and had taken care of organizing logistics for the conference. It made sense that the BFAR was taking care of Dolphins and Whales.

I then met veterinarians, and more veterinarians, and then it hit me. Back in vet school — still in UP Diliman at that time — we had an informal boundary: Our college took care of mammals and our next door neighbor, the College of Fisheries, took care of, well, fish. In Vigan, I realized that vets are taking on an expanded list of potential patients — still mammals, but those found in the sea.

I’m signing up with the PMMSN and hoping to join one of its future training workshops, in part to show that senior citizens can still pick up new causes and skills. But really, this is just a continuation of my older advocacies. I’ve worked on environmental causes for many years, and in public health, so this isn’t something completely new. The vet skills will need some honing; I just had to ask them where one extracts blood from a Dolphin (answer: a vein on the caudal or tail fin).

It’s my anthropology side that is most stimulated by the PMMSN activities. I delivered a paper in Vigan talking about how humans’ ability to care for other species — even willing to risk life and limb for them — is what adds to our definitions of humanity. Caring for dogs and cats is one thing; taking another step to care about Dolphins and Whales is a bit more difficult. But it’s happening.

In scientific conferences we usually find ourselves emotionally detached, dealing mainly with graphs and statistics. But the PMMSN conference was different: The papers tugged at our hearts’ strings, for example, when slides of butchered marine mammals were presented.

It was also encouraging to hear about how government patrols in the Ilocos had decreased dynamite fishing, which seems to have led as well to a decrease in the stranding of marine mammals. I was also touched to see a marine ambulance they had built, which the PMMSN hopes to replicate for the other regions. There are volunteers now all the way to Tawi-tawi.

I intend to write more about the PMMSN in the future. Interested in helping out? Do visit http://pmmsn.org.

Meanwhile, think hard about our garbage and how it might kill Dolphins like Hero. It’s not just plastic bags and wrappers. The weekend after Vigan, one of my daughters wanted to buy balloons and I had to gently tell her what one of the vets had told me: The balloons don’t end up in heaven; some come back to the earth, others into the sea. I bought her a balloon anyway, and our day ended with the balloon safely inside the house.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Photos: Dr. Jenwit Wanich

Our friends in Thailand are currently rehabilitating a young male Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) in Sri Bo Ya island, Krabi, Thailand. A young female died before the vets arrived at the stranding site. Their team is lead by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Source: Friends of PMMSN – Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Photos: Dr. Marco Espiritu

An adult female Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus) found beached in Mabacong, Batangas City. Necropsy was done by BFAR 4A veterinatian Dr. Marco Espiritu and the Office of the City Veterinary and Agriculture Services led by Rommel Credo.

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