TANJAY CITY—News of a beached dolphin close to their school on Thursday led some curious students of Tanjay City Science High School to the shoreline of Barangay (village) Tugas in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, to catch a glimpse of the marine mammal.
Joining the growing crowd that gathered at the shore that noon, they saw the mammal and wished they could be of help.
Before they knew it, they found themselves in chest-deep waters assisting the stranded Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) after they were deputized as Sea Scouts by Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) 206th Squadron volunteer Sidney R. Lee.
The students—Carissa C. Borromeo, Danica B. Cornelio, Diana B. Cornelio, Kristine Mae R. Ebarita, Lorelie S. Calumpang and May Lynne S. Guevarra—said it was a “life-changing” experience.
The 8-foot sea mammal, weighing about 170 kilograms, had been there since Thursday morning and was starting to show signs of fatigue and stress.
Lee said the first responders, led by Jac Senagan of the 206th PCGA Search and Rescue Squadron, needed extra hands to relieve them in keeping the dolphin afloat and wet without letting water in its blowhole. “Luckily, the science students were there in the nick of time, willingly skipping a meal just to help.”
Angeline S. Dy, provincial president of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network, gave everyone a crash course on proper stranded marine mammal supportive care.
The students named the dolphin Amelia after Amelia Earhart, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Dy, who suspected illness and malnutrition as the probable cause of the stranding, later on released Amelia to reunite with its pod in deeper waters amid the cheers from the students.
“The students were so touched by their encounter with the dolphin that they all said they wanted to take up marine biology when they get to college,” Lee said.
Amelia was the second Risso’s dolphin that ran aground in Negros Oriental in October.
Last Wednesday, another dolphin measuring 9 feet and 10 inches was stranded in the adjacent coastal city of Bais, which has a booming ecotourism industry in whale and dolphin watching.
The dolphin was given care and later on released to the sea by members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the 206th PCGA Squadron, together with city officials of Bais City and employees of the city tourism office.
In Pangasinan, a rare striped dolphin was found stranded at a Lingayen beach in Lingayen town on Friday. Personnel from the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council tried to bring the dolphin back to the Lingayen Gulf but it kept on returning to the shoreline, according to council head Fernando de Guzman.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) veterinarian Dr. Samantha Licudine said the 2.2-meter adult female dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) had a tear near its right fin, which “could have been caused by a predator.”
She said the dolphin returned to the shore because it could not swim well. “It was listing and could not balance itself,” she said.
The dolphin was taken to the BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center in Dagupan City, where it will be treated before being released back to the sea. With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon