LEGAZPI CITY: More than 10 dolphins were killed while 15 others were stranded at the shores of Del Gallego town in Camarines Sur province, Bicol Region on Tuesday because of illegal fishing activities, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

mammal 20210128 - Illegal fishing blasts dolphins in Camarines Sur
Personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and volunteer-members of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network measure dolphins that have died because of illegal blast fishing in Camarines Sur province. PHOTO FROM BFAR BICOL REGION

Nonie Enolva, BFAR regional spokesman, said 13 of the 25 Fraser’s dolphins (Lagenodelphis hosei) were found dead at Barangay Magais 1 in Del Gallego on Tuesday.

She said the BFAR Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team received a call from the Fisheries Livelihood Development Technician assigned in the area about the stranded dolphins.

The local responders rescued eight of the dolphins and released seven others back to the sea of Ragay Gulf.

The dolphin, similar to other sea mammals, usually stays in deep waters for about 15 to 20 minutes and goes to the surface to breathe.

“When they are disturbed, these mammals look for a sanctuary, where they can be relieved of the shock by putting up their heads and laying on the surface to breathe,” Evolva explained.

Ragay Gulf has been considered a “hot spot” for blast fishing in the province.

The rescue team proceeded to the area as, apparently, the local responders attempted the release of the live mammals early morning.

They also coordinated with the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network through Dr. Lem Aragones and planned to do necropsy.

“The carcasses will be preserved by icing on site. As to the cause of stranding and eventual death, we already ascertained that it was due to blast fishing based on the hemorrhages in almost the entire body and blood oozing from the mouth, eyes and ears of the dolphins,” Enolva said.

She said the age range of the sea mammals, all females, was jùvenile to adult. The villagers of Barangay Magais 1 found the dolphins at the shorelines at around 4 a.m.

Records of the Philippine Marine Stranding Network say that Bicol Region had a high prevalence of mass stranding due to illegal fishing practices, such as blast fishing, for the past years, making the region a “hot spot” for stranding dolphins.

On Oct. 8, 2020, at least 15 melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) were found dead in Catanduanes province following their mass stranding in the province’s coastal waters.

The 15 were part of a pod of about 70 melon-headed whales stranded in a mangrove area in San Andres town and had been monitored in another coastal area of the town.

Enolva had said the 15 melon-headed whales found dead in Catanduanes were also caused by blast fishing within the Lagonoy Gulf and Maqueda Channel.

Maqueda Channel is located within the areas of Caramoan, Presentacion in Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, the area’s vast fishing ground.

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