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LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – An Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead on Tuesday, August 16, in a Camarines Sur town, recording the first time the critically endangered marine mammal was spotted in the waters of Bicol, said the regional Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
The Irrawaddy dolphin, classified as critically endangered with a population believed to number less than 100 across Southeast Asia, was found in Barangay Bonot, Calabanga town in Camarines Sur, said Nonie Enolva, BFAR regional spokesperson.
The animal was reported dead around 3 am by a local fisher who admitted the dolphin got entangled in his crab net.
“It was a female and had a total length of 1.8 meters long (sub-adult). The local government unit of Calabanga coordinated with BFAR regional office for the proper carcass disposal. The carcass was brought to the Central Bicol State University for Agriculture (CBSUA) for proper freezing,” she said.
Dr. Lem Aragones, president of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network and a professor of marine mammal science at UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology confirmed the species.
The stranding site (Calabanga) is located within the San Miguel Bay facing the Pacific Ocean side and is north of the Bicol River Basin. This species inhabits the coastal, estuaries and rivers of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.
The Irrawaddy dolphin is considered a critically endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and the DENR Administrative Order 2014-15.
Nelson Bien, BFAR Bicol director planned the transport of the carcass to the marine Mammal Research & Stranding Laboratory of UP IESM Thursday through its freezer van.
To date, Calabanga town in Camarines Sur is the third area where this species has been found in the Philippines according to Enolva. The first two areas were Malampaya Sound in Palawan, and in the waters of Iloilo-Guimaras and Negros Occidental.
Following the discovery of endangered species in Bicol, Enolva said that Aragones and his team in collaboration with the BFAR Bicol is planning to conduct dolphin surveys in San Miguel soon through his DOST funded project PHL MarMans.
The Irrawaddy Dolphin belongs to the family Delphinidae (marine dolphin), and Orcaella brevirostris species and was first identified as the Irrawaddy Dolphin by Richard Owen in 1866.
Enolva said Irrawaddy dolphins are found in coastal areas in Southeast Asia and are among the most endangered dolphins on the planet, with less than a hundred reported in the Philippines, particularly in Malampaya Sound, Palawan.
It lives in shallow tropical and sub-tropical waters near coasts, and at the mouth of rivers or estuaries, land semi-enclosed lakes, bays, sounds and mangroves in Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. – Rappler.com