Great sperm whale found dead in Zamboanga-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Thursday, September 20, 2012
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A 52-footer pregnant sperm whale was found dead floating offshore east of this city, officials said Wednesday.
Lieutenant Commander Elizer Dalnay, of the Zamboanga Coast Guard Station (ZCGS), said the whale was spotted by combined Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) personnel around 6:12 a.m. Wednesday 1.5 nautical miles north of Sacol Island, east of this city.
Dalnay said the PCG and BFAR personnel were aboard the BFAR marine surveillance ship traveling to Zamboanga City coming from the nearby province of Basilan "when they spotted" the great sperm whale.
City Veterinarian Dr. Mario Arriola said the dead whale found in this city was pregnant. He could not, however, estimate the whale's period of pregnancy.
Ramil Dela Cruz, a member of the BFAR Marine Mamals Stranding Response Team, said the sperm whale could be dead for the past two days "before it was found this morning."
The cause of the death of the sperm whale was natural sickness, Dela Cruz said, though it could be noted that there were some holes and scratches on the whale's carcass.
"It was not known as of yet how the giant marine mammal had died, but the monsoon waves must have swept it ashore off Sacol Island," Arriola said.
It is estimated to be weighing around 30 tons, according to Dela Cruz.
The sperm whale was towed to the port of Zamboanga, where it was loaded on to an 18-wheeler trailer truck by a mechanical crane.
The authorities here decided to bury the whale at the fish cemetery of the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology.
The discovery of the sperm whale in Zamboanga was the third since Monday in the entire country. Two other sperm whales were found stranded on the beaches of Zambales and La Union provinces earlier this week.
The sperm whales found stranded on the beaches of Zambales and La Union provinces died on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, despite efforts to save them. They have wounds all over their body, authorities said.
The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is a marine mammal species under order Cetacea. It is a toothed whale (odontocete) having the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on earth, according to the National Geographic. Its name reportedly comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal's head.
The National Geographic said in its website that whalers once believed that the oily fluid was sperm, but scientists still do not understand the function of spermaceti.
One common theory is that the fluid, which hardens to wax when cold, helps the whale alter its buoyancy so it can dive deep and rise again, as sperm whales are known to dive as deep as 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in search of squid to eat, it added. (Sunnex)