Wildlife bureau to probe dugong’s death on seaweed farm
MANILA—Wildlife officials are to investigate the death of a dugong found trapped on a seaweed farm in Busuanga, Palawan early this month.
The Biodiversity Management Bureau (formerly known as the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it would send a technical team next week to determine the circumstances around the death of the protected marine mammal.
In a statement Friday, the bureau’s director Theresa Mundita Lim called on the public to report immediately to the nearest local office of the DENR any sighting of stranded dugong or any other marine wildlife in need of rescuing.
A report from the non-governmental organization Community Centered Conservation (C3) Philippines indicated that the 2.6-meter male dugong was found dead, entangled in a rope in waters about seven meters deep in the seaweed farm on Dec. 6.
“The dugong, just like the dolphin and whale, needs to surface for air periodically,” Lim said.
She said her bureau will be coordinating with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development to determine what measures need to be taken to prevent such incidents.
The measures will include the development of early warning systems and protocols on the rescue and release of dugong and other marine animals trapped in fish cages and seaweed farms.
Lim said there was also an urgent need to enhance public information efforts to educate local residents.
The London-based C3, which has been working to conserve dugong in Busuanga, reported that the entangled dugong was discovered by two young fishermen, Samson Ayso and Edwin Gadiano Jr., while they were on their way to go fishing in Sitio Minit in Barangay Cheey.
The two immediately reported the discovery to the barangay fisheries and aquatic resources management council chairman Clemente Abaño, who in turn, reported it to the C3 Philippines field office.
C3 program officers rushed to the area to secure data and, together with Abaño and some barangay officials, retrieved and buried the dead marine mammal to prevent the residents from eating the meat.
It is believed the dugong had been dead for more than 24 hours before it was discovered, Lim said.
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