From: WWF
Published January 5, 2009 08:16 AM

Another baleen whale washes up in Manila Bay

Manila, Philippines - The lifeless body of another baleen whale was found floating beside a passenger ship moored on Manila Bay’s Pier 13 two days before the end of the year, according to WWF-Philippines.

Measuring 9.8 metres and weighing almost three tonnes, the whale, thought to be either a Minke (Balaenoptera acutorostata) or a Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was brought to and buried in a local fish cemetery.

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In August 2007 another baleen whale carcass was found floating at the mouth of Manila Bay. Bloated and badly decomposed, it was towed ashore to an isolated cove. After photographs and all possible records were obtained, it was buried properly by a team from the Hamilo Coast with the assistance of WWF.

Due to the condition of the animal’s body, and local concerns about possible health impacts of a large decomposing carcass on the coastline, it was difficult to conduct a proper necropsy at the time and as such the cause of death for the 2007 animal was not determined.

Baleen whales may be harmed in a number of ways: entanglement in fishing gear, heavy boat traffic leading to ship strikes, pollution, and competition with humans for food resources. They could also die from disease. 

Between 2001 and 2005 a total of 417 such events were reported on the US Eastern Seaboard, involving both live and dead whales. Of these 292 mortalities were confirmed. However, the cause of death could not be determined for 76 per cent of the animals and so the odds are against ever determining how and why the 29 December whale died.

“Over the past two years the dead carcasses of two baleen whales that we rarely see in the wild these days were found floating in the area of Manila Bay,” said Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair. 

“Due to new species information about these large filter feeders, no one can say for sure what species they belong to without a proper DNA analysis. We are not even certain what whales these were. Can anyone estimate how many more whale deaths may have occurred in and around Manila Bay, which we do not even know about?”

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