A dead male dugong (sea cow) was found Tuesday by a fisherman in a mangrove area near the old Vietnamese Refugee Camp (VRC) in Barangay Bancao-Bancao.
Bancao-Bancao resident Babylyn Castillo said prior to the discovery of the dead dugong, they heard splashing sounds coming from waters behind the mangroves around 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Monday night, but thought of it was just some residents catching fish.
She suspected that the dugong was entrapped by seagrasses that abound in the area.
“Naririnig namin ‘yong ingay pero hindi namin ini-expect na dugong kasi ang alam namin mga nanghuhuli din ng isda kasi parang timbol ‘yong tunog… syempre sa laki niyan iaangat niya ang katawan niya bago ipapalo sa tubig. Kasi nakita daw ng isang kasama namin dito parang talagang na ano siya sa lumot. Nakita niya ‘yong buntot, nilapitan niya para tanggalin ‘yong lumot, tinignan niya ‘yong mukha pero wala na, patay na,” Castillo said.
Councilor JR Garcia of Bancao-Bancao said it was discovered around 12:45 p.m. on April 16.
The fisherman, whose name he did not mention, immediately called barangay officials to report the discovery.
“Nakita siya ng isang mangingisda natin dito sa Barangay Bancao-Bancao sa bakawan. Nakita niya na may patay nga na dugong so ang ginawa niya hinila niya lang dito sa tabi ng pampang kasi ang iniisip niya baka mamaho doon,” he said.
Garcia said as far as he knows, it was the first time that a dead dugong was found in the VRC area.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) spokesperson Jovic Fabello said the usual cause of dugong stranding and death is if it is strangled by fishnets or fish pen entrapment, infected internal wounds, and also plastic ingestion.
He said the male dugong weighs 250 kilos, measures two meters in length, and has a body width of around 50 centimeters.
“Ang usual factor kasi dyan is na-strangle siya sa net or may sugat siya tapos internal factor… ‘yong sugat nagkaroon na ng uod at nagnana na sa loob or maka-ingest siya ng plastic. Si Dr. Teri (Aquino) ang nag-necropsy kagabi ata… ‘yong cause of death hindi rin nila masabi kaagad pero may nakita siya na mga uod-uod na ata sa loob ng katawan,” he said.
Fabello said they suspect that it died because it got strangled in nets since the Canigaran area has a lot of fish pens.
Last week, a male dugong calf was also found stranded on a beach in Barangay Bogtong, Busuanga town, without its mother.
Volunteer veterinarians of the Community Centered Conservation (C3) Philippines placed the dugong calf under intensive care but it failed to survive. It died on Sunday, April 14.