Asia Dive News :
Giant sperm whale saved
by Philippine fishermen
CEBU CITY - A wounded sperm whale, believed to be a victim of illegal fishing, was rescued on Friday 29th in the waters off Puntod Islet in Panglao town in Bohol province.
Panglao Mayor Doloreich Dumaluan on Saturday 30th said the whale suffered two bullet wounds, several lacerations and bruises all over its body and tail.
The whale is seven meters long and weighs over 2,000 kilos.
The mayor, however, said he believed that the whale has weakened not because of its wounds but because its tail has been tied with fishnets.
Four fishermen identified as Rey Arbiso, Tonton Clemenia, a certain Bebing and another unidentified fisherman, first noticed the very weak whale near the Puntod Islet.
Dumaluan said the fishermen then asked the help of the divers and a marine biologist from the Bohol Marine Triangle, and towed the whale to the shallow waters off Barangay Danao.
The mayor, who is also a doctor, applied medicine to the whale's wounds before they allowed it to swim back to the sea on Saturday 30th.
Dumaluan did not believe that the fishermen in the area were responsible for what had happened to the whale.
He said fishermen in the three towns of Panglao, Dauis and Baclayon are aware of the provincial government's campaign to preserve whales and dolphins.
The leaders in these three towns have formed the Bohol Marine Triangle, chaired by Dumaluan, to protect whales and dolphins that have made the seas off Bohol as their migratory habitat.
Dumaluan said the provincial government of Bohol is actively promoting dolphin and whale watching to foreigners within the Bohol Marine Triangle.
But he said the Bohol Marine Triangle is a migratory route of whales from the Pacific Ocean via Surigao and Camiguin seas.
"The whale might have been caught by illegal fishermen in other areas. Illegal fishermen using big fishing vessels have firearms, and they might have shot the whale after it escaped from the fishnets," the mayor said.
After they treated the wounds of the whale, Dumaluan said, they pushed the whale back to the sea.
"It seemed that the whale wanted to thank us for treating its wounds and getting out from the fishnets that got tied in its tail. The whale did not want to leave us for over two hours. But when it finally swam towards the ocean, the whale jumped several times in the waters, maybe that was a form of expressing thanks to us," Dumaluan said.
The municipal government extended citations and P3,000 cash to the four fishermen, he said.
He has also ordered the Bantay Dagat to actively conduct patrol operations in the area to protect the whales and dolphins from illegal fishers.