BFAR Bikol expresses deep concern over the recent stranding of a female Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) along the coast of Barangay Tigbao, Milagros, Masbate on July 22, 2023.
According to reports received from MFARMC Chair Ronald Pilapil, the initial sighting of the stranded marine mammal was made by a group of vigilant fisherfolk on July 22, at approximately 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Responding promptly to the situation, the fisherfolk initiated a rescue operation, successfully bringing the animal to deeper waters with the hope of ensuring its safety and well-being. On the following day, July 23, the melon-headed whale was discovered stranded again at the same location. Local fisherfolk collaborated with the MFARMC to conduct a second rescue operation and guided the marine mammal back to the open sea while having continuous surveillance and monitoring to prevent further re-stranding and assist the animal’s chances of survival.
However, despite the valiant efforts of the responders and the community, on July 24, at approximately 5:00 AM, the lifeless body of the melon-headed whale washed ashore at Barangay Tigbao, Milagros, Masbate. The whale, measuring 7.5 feet in length and weighing approximately 90-100 kilograms, was identified and confirmed by experts.
Based on a visual assessment by the responders, the marine mammal displayed wounds on several parts of its body, suggesting possible injuries sustained during the stranding incidents. It is likely that the whale got crushed against the rocks during its struggle to return to deeper waters. The presence of a large crowd during rescue operations and unfavorable weather conditions, characterized by strong waves along the coastal area, may have contributed to stress and further aggravated the animal’s condition.
RD Ariel U. Pioquinto urges the public to be vigilant and promptly report any stranded marine animals or unusual incidents involving wildlife to the proper authorities. Immediate response and proper handling are essential in ensuring the well-being and conservation of our marine biodiversity.
In line with this incident, BFAR Region 5 extends its gratitude to the fisherfolk, local MFARMC, and everyone who participated in the rescue efforts. Their dedication and concern for marine life are commendable, and their commitment to safeguarding our environment and marine resources is truly appreciated.