A sea cow or dugong weighing around 400 kilos got accidentally trapped Tuesday morning inside a fish pen in Puerto Princesa Bay.
Barangay San Isidro councilor Harven Belano said in a phone interview with Palawan News that the dugong was also released on the same day after its good health was certified by marine authorities.
Belano said they did not attempt to lift the dugong from the enclosure to release it because it was big and heavy.
He said the owner of the fish pen, Rolando Cuya, had to sacrifice letting go of his day’s catch to set the marine mammal free.
“Hindi namin inangat ‘yong dugong kasi mabigat, bale nag-sacrifice ang may-ari na para makawala ang dugong sinacrifice niya na binaba muna ‘yong lambat. Kaya ‘yong mga isda niya nakawala na, para makawala rin ‘yong dugong. Iyong nawala lang naman sa fisherman ay iilang isda na nakasabay ng dugong sa alis,” said Belano.
He said the accidental trapping was reported to him by Cuya around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
He said Cuya saw the dugong around 6 a.m. when he went to check his enclosure.
“Pagdating niya doon sa baklad niya nakita na niya raw. Tapos bumalik siya. Hindi natin masabi na nanginginain ang dugong kasi ang baklad nakaabang lang, baka siguro na-trap lang [talaga]. Tiningnan namin kung may damage siya o may gasagas pero wala naman. Maganda naman ang kondisyon ng dugong,” said Belano.
Belano said they sought help from Councilor Elgin Damasco, whose radio station is near their barangay, to seek for assistance from marine experts in releasing the dugong.
Belano said it was the first time he saw such a huge dugong in Puerto Princesa in his almost three decades of living near the city bay.
“Kami dyan na talaga kami lumaki, first time lang na may nangyaring may dugong na nahuli (trapped) na ganyan kalaki at wala pa talagang nahuhuling dugong dyan,” said Belano.
He said the release was assisted by representatives from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).