Sperm whale beached in MisOr town

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Saturday, October 5, 2013


RESIDENTS in Kinoguitan town in Misamis Oriental were stirred after they found a giant sperm whale beached in its coast on Friday.

The whale measuring around 13-15 meters was already producing a stench that likely showed it was decomposing, said Jojo Bascug, who is the province’s consultant on environment.

The whale had a big cut on its belly, a sign that the whale poachers tortured it, Bascug said.

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Based on his observation, Bascug said the whale bore holes on its head and soaked red the area where it was found.

Bascug pitied the whale’s fate in the hands of the poachers who only wanted a portion of its body for sale.

Rodolfo Padla, a fisherman, said the whale was seen floating at the shallow part of the reef area. Padla together with the other fishermen dragged the whale on land to see a closer look at the creature and identify it.

Buried

On Saturday morning, Bascug said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Northern Mindanao ordered the community to bury the whale.

“BFAR has the mandate on the whales and dolphins protocol. However, Kinoguitan town should have informed the provincial government about the incident since it is within its municipal waters. BFAR doesn’t have the capacity and resources to preserve the remains of the whale except to bury it,” Bascug said.

It will cost the province about P700 thousand to collect and clean the bones using the scientific method. It does not include the cost of transporting it from Kinoguitan to Davao City where there is a laboratory capable to do the process.

The problem with burying it, Bascug said, is its cost as it will be more expensive since burying it will damage the bone tissues that will require more difficult processes.

Largest of the toothed whales

According to The Free Dictionary, a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), or cachalot is the largest of toothed whales, whose massive head has a cavity containing sperm oil and spermaceti and whose long intestines often contain ambergris.

Mature males average at 16 meters (52 ft) in length, but some may reach 20.5 meters (67 ft), with the head representing up to one-third of the animal's length. The sperm whale feeds primarily on giant and colossal squid. Plunging to three kilometers (9,800 ft) for prey, it is the deepest diving mammal.

Its clicking vocalization, a form of echolocation and communication, may be as loud as 230 decibels underwater making it the loudest sound produced by any animal. It has the largest brain of any animal on Earth, more than five times heavier than a human's. Sperm whales can live for more than 60 years.

With the incident, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano is contemplating on creating a task force to watch over the province’s waters to prevent incidents like this to recur.

Emano said that Bantay Dagat Task Force would require a hefty amount to be fully operational as it requires equipment and manpower which at present the province couldn’t yet appropriate.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 06, 2013.

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