By Nino Luces
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – A male juvenile whale shark (butanding) died after it was stranded on the beach in Barangay Pawikan, Cataingan town, Masbate, Tuesday.
Nonie Enolva, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) spokesperson, told Manila Bulletin the carcass of the whale has been buried and was not examined to ascertain death.
Enolva said a resident of Pawikan, Joseph Sirtimo, saw the whale struggling to swim back to the water after being beached. But the low tide had set in, preventing the animal from escaping.
Sirtimo reported the incident to authorities.
Enolva said that when Efraim Mendoza and Marcelino Britanico, both BFAR staff responded, the butanding was already dead.
They also saw two wounds in the dorsal fin, possibly caused by a sharp object, most likely a bolo.
“Perhaps the butanding was purposely hunted,” Enolva said.
The wounds could not have caused its death, because they were superficial.
She said the whale died because it was stranded. “Ang butanding kasi needs to constantly move to get the needed water and dissolve oxygen. Kung nagsadsad siya sa baybayin and hindi nakalangoy, possible mamatay siya,” Enolva said.
Enolva said Masbate fishers could not have hunted the butanding for food since they are aware that it is a protected species.