DEAD MELON-HEADED WHALES. Residents of Barangay Bonot in San Andres, Catanduanes discover dead melon-headed whales on the shore on Thursday (Oct.8, 2020). The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Bicol said the marine mammals could have been victims of blast fishing. (Photo courtesy of BFAR-Bicol)

LEGAZPI CITY – At least nine melon-headed whales were found dead on Thursday morning on the shore of Barangay Bonot, San Andres town in Catanduanes province, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Bicol said.

Nonie Enolva, the BFAR-Bicol spokesperson, said the dead mammals were part of the 70 melon-headed whales being monitored by the agency for mass stranding as a result of blast fishing.

“Mass stranding happens when these animals are found close to shallow waters and at risk (of) becoming stranded,” she said in a phone interview.

Enolva said melon-headed whales maintain an upright position to breathe and because of the blasting, they could have lost balance and coordination in swimming.

“Since they are experiencing trauma, they need to go to the shoreline to breathe,” she added.

Enolva said based on the initial report, the whales’ behavior showed that they suffered from acoustic trauma. “The behavior that they are showing, inaangat ang ulo sa surface (they put up their head on the surface).”

A BFAR personnel who responded to the report on the dead whales said the wounds of the mammals have to be examined to establish their cause of death.

Enolva added that a broken middle ear could be proof that the whales were victims of blast fishing.

As of posting, BFAR is still waiting for a trained veterinarian to do the necropsy on the dead whales.

Some of the dead mammals measured 2.75 meters while the others were smaller, Enolva said. (PNA)