Dead 'butanding' found in Manila Bay
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 19:25:00 10/28/2009
Filed Under: Environmental Issues, Animals
MANILA, Philippines— A whale shark, locally called “butanding”, was found dead on Manila Bay by local fishermen on Wednesday morning, according to the local arm of conservationist group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
WWF Philippines information officer Gregg Yan said the possible causes for the butanding’s death include disease, gear entanglement, exposure to organic pollutants and ship strikes.
Measuring 15-feet long, the female whale shark bore a few scars, including small cuts on its tail possibly caused by a rope and strange injuries to both eyes, with the eyeballs missing when the carcass was found along the South Harbor at 1:30a.m., said Yan.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Manila Ocean Park and WWF went to the site where the dead whale shark was found to document the carcass.
A necropsy will be conducted to examine its cause of death, while the carcass will be immediately buried in the town of Dagupan in Pangasinan province, where the remains of other large sea creatures are buried.
The whale shark is the third largest marine animal to have died in Manila Bay over the past three years, said Yan. The first two include a dead baleen whale found floating beside a passenger ship moored in Manila Bay on December 2008 and another baleen whale carcass was found floating on August 2007.
Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long, with a maw wide enough to swallow a person. However, they feed only on planktons, acting as living filters to improve overall water quality in the seas.
Classified as a vulnerable species or close to being endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000, the global population of whale sharks continues to decrease, said Yan.