PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A carcass of a female adult dugong (seacow) was found dead by a local fisherman on a sandbar in a remote coastal village here Friday.

Measuring 10 feet in length and weighing an estimated 400 kilograms, the dead marine mammal was discovered by fisherman Miguelito Tunga in Sitio Anilawan, Barangay Babuyan, north of Puerto Princesa.

Vivian Obligar-Soriano of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) said Friday night that the sighting of the carcass was reported to them at about 1 p.m. by their field staff, who was informed by the village officials of Babuyan.

“It was found by a fisherman on a sandbar at 7 a.m. It was towed by him around 9 a.m. to the shore of Purok Baybay, Anilawan. It’s a sad day, the day before the celebration of World Wildlife Day,” she said.

Soriano said the carcass was towed to the shore of Purok Baybay, where it was also buried.

“It was already smelly when we got to it. We were unable to conduct the necropsy because there was no available vet. It’s possible that it died because it was stranded due to low tide in the area,” she said.

Soriano could not say if it was the first time in a while that a dugong was found washed ashore and died.

“In dugong stranding reports to us, it appears that there was none in a long time. But a while ago, they told us that last year, there was one that was found dead also but they buried it on their own and no longer reported to us,” she said.

The Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP) said the dugong (scientific name: Dugong dugon) stands out as the largest and only sea-living mammal that grazes on seagrass.

In 2004, the MWWP said it was given “a higher level of protection” when it was classified as “critically endangered” under Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2004-15.

Anyone found to be harming the marine mammal may be imprisoned for six to 12 years and fined up to P1 million or both, at the discretion of the court. (PNA)