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

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

Whale Shark P-930, named Pintados.
P-930. Pintados on the beach at Socorro, Surigao del Norte
Photos: Large Marine Vertebrates (LAMAVE) Project Philippines

Philippines: Every shark counts
Whale Sharks, also known as ’butanding’, are protected by Philippine law
By Sally Snow, 10th January 2016;

The beginning of 2016 saw the Philippines lose one of less than a thousand Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus) ever identified in the country.

Jessica Labaja, a researcher from the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, confirmed that the Whale Shark that tragically died, entangled in a fishing net in Surigao del Norte on January 2, 2016, was in fact P-930, the 930th Whale Shark to be identified in the Philippines

P-930, nicknamed Pintados, in honor of the Filipino people that used to inhabit the Visayas and whose bodies were covered in tattoos to display their bravery, was first encountered alive by Jessica and her team of researchers on December 13, 2015, while on a scientific survey in Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte.

The male shark measured 7 meters in length and was encountered while feeding in the rich water of Pintuyan in Sogod Bay. He was identified by the spot and line pattern on his body that is unique to each individual Whale Shark.

On the dawn of January 2, he was discovered already dead. He was found entangled in a fishing net in Barangay Pamosaingan, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, by one of the local fishermen, who alerted the local authorities.

With the assistance of the local men and women, under the leadership of Barangay Captain Felipa Liquido, members of the Philippine National Police, and Senior Police Officer (SPO2) Wilson Antipasado, one of the most promising Whale Shark researchers in the country, Miss Jessica Labaja, conducted a necropsy to identify the health status of the Whale Shark prior to the entanglement in the pamo net.

The results of the necropsy determined that the entanglement and derived suffocation was the only cause of death.

Whale Shark are the largest fish on earth. They can grow to a length of up to 20 meters, and live for over 100 years. Pintados was only 7 meters long and estimated to be around 20 years old. He was found dead in a healthy condition with his stomach still full of food.

A tragedy that affects us all

The premature death of Pintado is a tragedy for many reasons.

Whale Shark like him support a sustainable tourism industry in the nearby Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte and in Donsol, Sorsogon, where tourists fly from across the globe to see these incredible giants, fuelling the creation of alternative livelihoods and the local economy.

The loss of each individual is equivalent to the loss of income for the local economy.

Secondly, the Visayas, which historically was a prime hunting ground for Whale Shark for over a century, made progress when the Fisheries Administrative Order 193 in 1998 saved these giants from extinction.

While the fishery ban was difficult for many of the fishing villages, it was a necessary move to ensure the long-term conservation of this species.

In the 1990s nearly 1000 Whale Sharks were killed, and since then, nearly 20 years after the ban, researchers and the public have encountered less than 1000 individual Whale Sharks alive in the whole country.

These giants are slowly recolonizing our Philippine waters, however it will take many more years to ensure their complete recovery.

Whale Sharks are not only an incredible tourism attraction when properly managed, but they are the indicator of a healthy ocean and are indispensable to maintain the balance in the marine ecosystem.

Source: Rappler

Philippines: Every shark counts
By Sally Snow, 10th January 2016;

The beginning of 2016 saw the Philippines lose one of less than 1000 Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus) ever identified in the country.

Jessica Labaja, a researcher from the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines confirmed that the Whale Shark that tragically died entangled in a fishing net in Surigao del Norte on January 2, 2016 was in fact P-930, the 930th Whale Shark to be identified in the Philippines (www.whaleshark.org).

P-930, nicknamed Pintados, in honour of the Filipino people that used to inhabit the Visayas and whose bodies were covered in tattoos to display their bravery, was first encountered alive by Jessica and her team of researchers on the 13th of December 2015 while on a scientific survey in Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte.

The male shark measured 7m in length and was encountered while feeding in the rich water of Pintuyan in Sogod Bay. He was identified by the spot and line pattern on his body that is unique to each individual Whale Shark.

On the dawn of the 2nd of January he was discovered already dead, entangled in a pamo fishing net in Barangay Pamosaingan, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, by one of the local fishermen, who alerted the local authorities.

With the assistance of the local men and women headed under the leadership of Barangay Captain Felipa Liquido, the PNP men and Senior Police Officer (SPO2) Wilson Antipasado, Miss Jessican Labaja, one of the most promising Whale Shark researchers in the country, conducted a necropsy to identify the health status of the Whale Shark prior to the entanglement in the pamo net. The results of the necropsy determined that the entanglement and derived suffocation was the only cause of death.

Whale Sharks are the largest fish on earth; they can grow up to 20 meters and live for over 100 years. Pintado was only 7 meters long and estimated to be around 20 years old. He was found dead in a healthy condition with his stomach still full of food.

A tragedy that affects us all

The premature death of Pintado is a tragedy for many reasons. Whale Sharks like him support a sustainable tourism industry in the nearby Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte and in Donsol, Sorsogon, where tourists fly from across the globe to see these incredible giants, fuelling the creation of alternative livelihoods and the local economy. The loss of each individual is equivalent to the loss of income for the local economy.

Secondly, the Visayas, which historically was a prime hunting ground for Whale Sharks for over a century, made progress when the Fishery Administrative Order 193 in 1998 saved these giant from extinction. While the fishery ban was difficult for many of the fishing villages, it was a necessary move to ensure the long-term conservation of this species. In the 1990s nearly a 1000 Whale Sharks were killed and since then, nearly 20 years after the ban, researchers and the public have encounter less than 1000 individual Whale Sharks alive in the whole country. These giants are slowly recolonizing our Philippine waters, however it will take many more years to ensure their complete recovery.

Whale Sharks are not only an incredible tourism attraction when properly managed, but they are the indicator of a healthy ocean and are indispensable to maintain the balance in the marine ecosystem. Preventing their death and the unsustainable use of the whale sharks in the Philippines is an urgent priority.

Every Filipino can do their part to ensure the future of our Whale Sharks.

FIRST, support only sustainable tourism destinations, where the Whale Shark are left to display their natural behaviour. These can be recognized by the endorsement of the Department Of Tourism and their compliance to rules and regulation dictated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. If in doubt, contact any local NGOs working in the area you plan to visit or visit the website of credible organization like Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, WWF-Philippines and the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines.

SECOND, keep the ocean clean and dispose of your plastic properly. Over 80% of the ocean plastic pollution comes from land. Whale Sharks like Manta Rays (Manta spp.) are filter feeders; they ingest large amount of water in order to sieve tiny shrimps and other small organisms that comprise plankton, their main food source. Unfortunately as they suck in water they also accidentally ingest plastic bag, straws, bottles and single use sachets that float in the ocean, blocking their throat and their stomach, often causing their death.

THIRDLY, learn more about the Whale Sharks and marine wildlife in general, get INVOLVED and be TRAINED to respond to stranding events. Always report marine wildlife in difficulty to the local authorities immediately. You can find a copy of the Official Philippine Aquatic Wildlife Rescue & Response Manual to Shark & Ray, Dolphin & Whale and Marine Turtles Incidents prepared by DA-BFAR in collaboration with many National and International expert HERE.

Every Action Counts – make sure yours does.

The Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines would like to thank those who assisted with the burial and in particular Barangay Captain Felipa Laiquido, Pamosaingan Barangay Councilor Paquito Espinosa Tatoy, SP02 Wilson antipasado PNP Socorro, Edelito Sangco MAO Socorro, Fr. Jode Escobal of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and Mr. Jake Miranda for their support.

Source: Large Marine Vertebrate Project Philippines

Philippines: Villagers call for further probe of Lake Mainit fish kill

By Erwin M. Mascariñas, 7th January 2016;

A village executive and residents in Mainit and adjacent towns in the province of Surigao del Norte are calling for an environmental forum to push for further investigation into the environmental state of Lake Mainit, the country’s deepest and fourth largest lake.

The local folk are seeking more scientific inquiry in the light of a massive fish kill event in November 2015, which caused several fishing communities to suffer huge livelihood and economic loses.

“The fish kill affected the way of life of hundreds of families around the lake. Unfortunately we still don’t have a clear idea as to the cause of the problem and the state of health of our lake,” said Gaudencio Mondano, village executive of barangay Quezon, one of the 21 barangays in the town of Mainit.

On January 28, the village leaders plan to conduct an environmental forum regarding their concerns. “We have invited technical experts from non-government organizations and concerned government agencies for the purpose.”

There are four towns surrounding Mainit Lake, and the majority of the residents rely on fishing as their principal source of income.

“We will also invite other local executives from the other towns. Just in this village, we have about 200 fishing families who are affected by the fish kill. Even if they drop the price of the harvested fish to P20 per kilogram, still almost nobody would buy for fear that the fish might be contaminated,” Mondano added.

“We want to know what is happening in the lake, we want to know from the government agencies about their plans and actions that need to be taken. We need to form a consensus as to what can be done to prevent the same situation from repeating itself in the future. We also need to know if the ongoing mining operation near our area has something to do with the possible poisoning of our lake,” Mondano concluded.

Zimmbodilion Mosende, a local environmental advocate in the town of Mainit who also serves as Strategic Information Adviser at UNAIDS expressed his concern on the environmental situation of the lake: “Until now there is still no clear information regarding what really caused the problem. We have results citing low dissolved oxygen from a news interview with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Caraga office, but as to how the situation became that way, and why, we are still in the dark.”

Mosende added that his concern, and that of his town mates, is the immediate resolution of the environmental issue.

“The people who are living around the lake, the communities, are the ones who are greatly affected. We need more tests on the lake and forensics on the fish and, if possible, another independent body should do another test. We call on the appropriate government agency to immediately investigate the cause of the fish kill and inform the public on the safety of the fish as food, give us advice regarding the fish catch, and disseminate information about how to prevent future fish kills,” said Mosende, who also runs a blog on the environmental concerns surrounding the lake and other related issues affecting the area.

Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines with an estimated surface area of 173.40 square kilometers and has the deepest bottom in the country, with a maximum depth reaching 223 meters.

Four towns are situated around Lake Mainit, namely: Mainit and Alegria in Surigao del Norte province, and Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte province.

Source: InterAksyon

Philippines: Villagers call for further probe of Lake Mainit fish kill