Stranded juvenile whale shark dies in Masbate

ALBAY, Philippines – Barely two weeks after a giant leatherback sea turtle was found dead in Camarines Sur, a juvenile whale shark died after it was stranded on the shoreline of Sitio Laao, Barangay Pawikan, Cataingan town in Masbate.

Nonie Enolva, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources regional spokesperson, told Rappler that the endangered species locally called as butanding was found beached on Tuesday, August 6. 

Enolva said residents of Sitio Laao saw the whale shark still swimming at 5 in the morning. 

She said Joseph Sirtimo reported to the authorities that he saw the butanding trying to swim back after being beached. But the low tide had set in fast, preventing the juvenile whale shark to go back to the waters.

"At 6:30 am, the male juvenile whale shark was totally beached due to low tide. But we noticed that there were two wounds in the dorsal fin caused by sharp object, most likely a bolo. Perhaps it was purposely hunted," Enolva told Rappler.

Photo courtesy of Nonie Enolva/BFAR

The whale also suffered numerous bruises on its ventral part, the BFAR spokesperson said.

"But the wounds could not cause the demise of whale shark as it was solely superficial. No necropsy was undertaken to ascertain the cause of death. But it could be caused of the low tide," Enolva added.

She said that this was the first reported case of a stranded whale shark in Bicol.

"This is the sole whale shark stranded in Bicol. The coastal communities have already high awareness in protecting endangered species like the butanding. We don't have other records of hunting or butchering in Bicol for over 10 years or so," she said.

Enolva said the carcass of the whale shark was buried along the shoreline of Pawikan by the local communities. – Rappler.com