SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) – A group of fishermen here caught last week a huge tiger shark in the waters between Bohol and Camiguin islands, and found inside the shark’s belly a human head and a leg, still with half-digested flesh.
“It was so disgusting. We can’t bear the awful smell,” said Bodoy Gorgod, 48, one of the five fishermen from Punta Bilar here who caught the shark between the waters of Bohol and Camiguin islands Wednesday last week.
Gorgod, 48, said he had never caught a shark before with human parts inside since he started fishing at age 20.
The fisherman said the shark was so huge it might have weighed 300 kilos.
Even though they know the catch would fetch them a good price, usually at 70 pesos a kilo when sold to fishball makers in Cebu, Gorgod said they ditched the shark, except the head and the fins, when they were still in the deep sea.
“We feared that the human remains may bring bad luck to us, so we opted to drop to the sea the shark’s body and what’s inside its belly,” he said.
Gorgod said they used hook and line in catching the shark, which took the bait around 10 p.m. of Wednesday.
After ditching the big shark, they caught another, but this time smaller, weighing only 42 kilos, which they took home.
The morning after, the fishermen sun-dried the enormous jaw of the big shark.
But the wife of one of the fishermen, Perly Santillana, said she wanted the jaw to be put away, too, because she fears that the soul of the dead man found in the shark’s belly might visit them at night.
“I don’t want the sight of that jaw, knowing that the shark had eaten a human being. Who knows the victim’s spirit might visit us,” she said.
Although the fishermen believed the shark weighed 300 kilos, an expert diver said it could be 600 kilos, based on the teeth and the size of the jaw. Jake Miranda, of the Surigao Dive Club, noted that the shark’s tooth length is 1.25 inches with a jaw diameter of 17 inches. Thus, it could have been a 12.5-footer shark with a girth of 90 inches.
Some fisherfolks here believe that the human remains may be that of one of the missing passengers of the M/V Maharlika 2 ferry, which perished off Leyte last Sept. 13. To date, two male passengers of the ill-fated ship remain unaccounted for.
Some fishermen in Punta Bilar are into shark hunting despite prohibition of some kinds of sharks.
Republic Act 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, prohibits the fishing of “threatened and/or endangered species.” The website of the Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines cites only five shark species considered as threatened: whale shark, oceanic whitetip shark, scalloped hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark and smooth hammerhead shark.
The Fisheries Administrative Order 193, meanwhile, sets a moratorium on catching and trading of whale sharks, as well as manta rays.
Fishermen in Punta Bilar used to hunt sharks once a month or every two months. They claimed that they are not cruel shark fishermen. “They share the shark meat with the rest of the villagers and this has been that way in Punta Bilar for decades,” Miranda said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)