Residents and local officials in Atimonan free a trapped whale shark on August 23, 2021.

QUEZON, Philippines — A whale shark, also known as a butanding, was sighted by residents in Lamon Bay, Atimonan, Quezon on Monday went it got trapped inside a fishing net near the seashore.  

According to the report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Calauag, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was around three meters long and had no visible injuries. 

Around 30 fishermen, concerned residents, and local barangay officials helped release the whale shark into safer waters.

Conservation and Development Division – Coastal Resources and Foreshore Management Section of DENR CALABARZON said “this is not the first time a marine mammal was sighted in the community”. 

“This may indicate rich marine biodiversity in the area and we need to continue to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem. Kung ano ang ginagawa natin sa kagubatan at kalupaan, ay magkakaroon din ng epekto sa ating katubigan at karagatan. Kaya patuloy natin itong pag ingatan,” Regional Executive Director Nilo Tamoria added. 

Tamoria said people should not touch whale sharks if they encounter one. He also said they should not feed the whale sharks as that can alter their behavior and could pose a harmful effect on them.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, whale shark numbers have been falling and they are classified as endangered.

Among the major threats to whale sharks are fisheries catches, bycatch in nets and vessel strikes.

In case of a whale shark encounter, DENR CALABARZON is urging the public to report the incident to the nearest DENR office in the area.