Stranded melonhead whale in shallow Lubang waters dies

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Rescuers try to usher a stranded melonhead whale to deeper water off a coastal village on Lubang Island. Photo courtesy of Michael Dennis Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines—A melonhead whale stranded itself in shallow waters and died after four unsuccessful rescue attempts near the coast of Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro, a marine ecology officer said Wednesday.

The three-meter whale was found by a fisherman close to the beach in Barangay Maliig around 6 a.m., Michael Dennis Mendoza, chief of the Coastal Resource Management Office of Lubang, told INQUIRER.net.

Rescuers tried to usher the female sea mammal to deeper water, Mendoza said, adding they first brought the adult melon-headed whale to a cove, which is about 20 feet deep.

“But it returned again to the shallow area,” Mendoza said in a phone interview.

The melonhead whale sustained cuts and bruises on its belly as the stranding site has plenty of corals, he said. “So we brought it to an area with seagrass cover but it swam back to the coral area.”

The “stressed” whale died around 11 a.m. Wednesday after four failed rescue bids, Mendoza said.

Melonhead whales live far from shore in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical oceans. In 2009, about 300 of this whale species were stranded in the shallow waters of Bataan but residents and volunteers guided them back to safety.

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