Cause of stranded dolphin’s death in Surigao investigated

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — 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 Fraser’s dolphin not a bottlenose dolphin 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 Philippines. However, populations of dolphins, whales and the dugong 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 existed 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 (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)