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Dolphin rescued off Zambales Beach dies
By Ding Cervantes

Philippine Headline News Online


27th May 2004

Next time you want to throw a plastic bag into the sea, think twice. It just might lead to the death of a dolphin.

A six-foot long dolphin found beached in Masinloc, Zambales two weeks ago has died despite efforts of veterinary experts to restore it back to health.

An autopsy revealed the dolphin had eaten plastic bags — the same kind people throw into the sea with nary a thought — more than its belly could contain.

Executive director Regidor de Leon of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon said yesterday that the Fraser’s dolphin — scientific name Lagenodelphis Hosei — was diagnosed to have died of pulmonary congestion while being treated at the Ocean Adventure Marine Park here.

The unusual death of the dolphin, he said, is a sign that there is something wrong with our local marine ecosystem.

"Autopsy showed its stomach full of plastic bags and was suffering from severe gastritis. It was also found to be severely dehydrated, severely malnourished and underweight, and had tapeworm infestation," De Leon said, quoting the autopsy report.

Park veterinarian Christopher Torno, who conducted the autopsy, said the dolphin was brought to his clinic days after it was found in Masinloc, and that the mammal died anyway the day after its arrival despite the administration of antibiotics and fluid therapy.

Torno said the immediate cause of death was severe pulmonary congestion resulting in heart failure.

The dolphin’s carcass was transported to the University of the Philippines-Los Baņos Museum of Natural History for further studies, he said.

Fraser’s dolphins are found in tropical seas. They have striped, small flippers and dorsal fin, as well as very short beaks. They grow up to nine feet and are known to frequent the waters of Southeastern Negros, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Camiguin, Samal Island and Davao Gulf.

This development has prompted De Leon to appeal for "greater public vigilance and cooperation in the government’s environmental protection and conservation activities."

"Pollution caused by garbage,
particularly plastics, has taken its toll among marine mammals," he said, stressing that "dolphins and other marine mammals such as whales and dugong face continued threats from marine pollution and destructive fishing, such as the use of fine meshed nets which entangle and drown marine mammals."

The DENR official also noted that "dolphins are the barometers of the state of health of our oceans and seas, much like the rare Philippine eagle is an indicator of the health of our rainforests. If our dolphins are sick, it may be that the entire marine ecosystem is in trouble."

The Philippines has about 2.7 million hectares of coastal waters and about 200 million hectares of territorial waters inhabited by various marine life.