LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The young adult female sperm whale found dead on the shores of Caramoan town in Camarines Sur on October 4 had a fractured jaw, the results of a necropsy performed on the mammal showed.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bicol said that the whale, which was found dead in a mangrove area in Tabgon village in Caramoan, underwent necropsy on October 5 to determine its cause of death.
BFAR Bicol spokesperson Nonie Enolva said in a statement on Tuesday, October 8, that according to the team that conducted the necropsy, the whale’s stomach contents showed recent feeding which indicated that the whale had an “acute or sudden death.”
Enolva said the whale did not suffer from any health issues but was found with a jaw fracture apparently caused by a “single, high-energy impact.”
“There was no evidence of any infectious or chronic health issues based on what were observable and recoverable at that time. Most significant was the bilateral complex jaw fractures wherein several fragments of shattered bones were associated with hemorrhage of surrounding soft tissue particularly jaw muscles and tongue,” the BFAR spokesperson said.
“One unattached tooth with signs of hemorrhage was recovered in the pharynx. These aforementioned injuries can be attributed to a single, high-energy impact which is unknown as of this time,” she added.
Enolva also said that the “moderate to advanced state of decomposition” of the whale’s carcass limited the necropsy. The whale measured 7.5 meters and weighed approximately 7 to 8 metric tons.
The post-mortem examination was conducted by a team from the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN) and local authorities.
The team includes renowned pathologist Dr Christopher Torno, PMMSN president Dr Lemnuel Aragones, Dr Mariel Flores, Dr Sandy Ling Choo, two post-graduate students from the University of the Philippines, the BFAR Bicol stranding team, the Provincial Environment, Disaster Management, and Emergency Response Office and the Caramoan municipal government.
Enolva said that according to BFAR Bicol chief Nelson Bien, the whale might have been hit by a large vessel “since the Maqueda Channel is also a busy fishing ground frequented by large vessels or it could also be any other mishap underwater.”
”We are reminding our local fishers to report any stranding incidents in the country especially the alive ones so that we can give an immediate medical care, be able to recover and released back at sea,” Enolva said.
PMMSN also cited the rising number of whale stranding incidents, adding that the mammals are also affected by human activities.
The carcass of the whale was secured and left at the shore within the mangrove area to decompose while other organs and muscle tissues were buried. Tissues were collected for histology studies of UP, Enolva said.
The skeleton of the whale would be put on display either by the provincial or Caramoan municipal government of Caramoan.
Enolva said the whale was the 9th case of a stranded mammal in Bicol waters, and 94th in the country. In March, a Cuvier’s beaked whale found dead in Compostela Valley was found with 40 kilograms of plastic in its stomach.
The BFAR official urged the public to report any marine mammal stranding to proper authorities. – Rappler.com
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