BFAR warns about parasites in sharks, stingrays
NAGA CITY — Parasites, whose larvae live in orifices of sharks and stingrays, may harm humans when ingested through the favorite Bicol dish “kinunot,” a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) official said.
Nonie Enolva, spokesperson for BFAR in the Bicol region, said that the agency’s personnel observed the presence of a species of parasite called Phyllobothrium delphini in stranded sea mammals, sharks and stingrays.
Stingray or shark meat is used as main ingredient in kinunot. The shredded meat is cooked in coconut milk with lemon or vinegar and malunggay (Moringa), and spiced with red or green pepper, tomatoes, ginger, onions and garlic.
While issuing the warning, Enolva, however, clarified that the agency had yet to record a case of parasite transmission to humans although, she said, “the possibility was always there.”
Enolva said stingray or shark meat should be cooked thoroughly to kill any parasite larvae. She said that stingray and shark meat for kinunot should be boiled, shredded and marinated in lemon or vinegar.
The mix should be recooked in coconut milk and other ingredients to ensure the safety of the Bicol delicacy for consumption.
According to Enolva, larvae of the parasite may adapt to human tissues when meat from infected sea mammals, sharks and stingrays is eaten.
She said that parasite infestation was the main cause of stranding of dolphins and whales in waters around Bicol.
Enolva said that sea creatures heavily infected with parasites would weaken and tended to seek refuge in shallow waters.
The region, she said, had the highest number of stranding incidents in the Philippines from 2015 to 2017 at 111. From January to October this year, the BFAR recorded 19 stranding incidents in Bicol.
Among the species stranded in the region’s beaches were giant sperm whale, spinner dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, striped dolphin, common bottlenose dolphin, pygmy killer whale, Risso’s dolphin and dwarf sperm whale.
Enolva said that aside from parasites, stranded dolphins were also observed to had been infected with sea lice, found in their eyes. BFAR personnel use coconut water to flush out the lice and help dolphins recover.
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