Divers find whale shark with fins, tail sliced off

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Posted by on February 17, 2010 at 09:21:24:

In Reply to: Whale Shark Murdered in Batangas-Warning - Graphic Photos posted by Dave on February 17, 2010 at 08:40:34:

BATANGAS CITY—A dead whale shark without fins and a tail was buried on the shores of Tingloy Island on Tuesday morning, inscribing a sad epilogue to a Manila conference of 50 nations for the protection of the endangered fish species.

Locally known as “butanding,” the juvenile whale shark (Rhincodon typus) was found at 9:30 a.m. on Monday by a group of foreign and local divers in Barangay Maricaban on the island, 44 kilometers from this city.

It was still alive but “very weak” when the group left it at 5 p.m., said Rey Manalo, head of the Bantay-Dagat (sea patrol) in Tingloy.

Manalo said the whale shark, measuring 18 feet, could have gotten accidentally entangled in a net laid out by a group of island fishermen who were catching fish nearby.

They must have tried to rescue the creature with their bare hands but could not do so without cutting its fins and tail, he said.

Since it could no longer swim, the hapless giant fish was placed in cool waters with Bantay-Dagat personnel watching over it, Manalo said. Unfortunately, it died on Monday night and was buried on the shore the next morning, he said.


Last week, representatives of some 50 countries attended the third meeting of the International Cooperation on Migratory Sharks (SHARKS III) hosted by the Philippines in Manila. Eleven of them signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging to protect the whale sharks.

The participants also agreed to advance the protection of seven shark species that needed protection—the Basking Shark, Great White Shark, Whale Shark, Spiny Dogfish Shark, Porbeagle Shark, and Shortfin and Longfin Mako Sharks.

SHARKS III falls under the Convention on Migratory Species and Wild Animals (CMS), otherwise known as the Bonn Convention.

“The memorandum of understanding on the butanding is a breakthrough since this is the first international cooperation that would ensure the protection and conservation of the sharks all over the world,” said Dr. Mundita Lim, chief of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and conference chair.

The document was signed by the Philippines, China, United States, Costa Rica, Palau, Congo, Senegal, Republic of Guinea, Togo, Liberia, Kenya and Ghana. At least 10 signatories are needed to make it enforceable, Lim said

Conservation plan

Lim said the forging of the memorandum of understanding was important in crafting a conservation plan that included strengthening the policies of countries on shark conservation, possible funding for shark protection, and the enforcement of transboundary regulations to ensure the welfare of migratory sharks.

The plan will cover a ban on “shark finning,” or the practice of simply harvesting the fins of sharks with the still-alive marine creatures thrown back into the sea, she said.

Studies have identified “shark finning” as one of the reasons for the rapid decline in shark population worldwide. It is estimated that 100 to 200 million sharks are killed annually for their fins—the prime ingredients for the shark-fin soup delicacy.

Lim said that the international conservation plan would be finalized in the next meeting of member-signatories to the Bonn Convention.

No coordination

“The sharks can freely swim across waters of any country. That’s why this cooperation is very important to sustain efforts for their conservation. It is important for countries to come together toward the goal of ensuring the safety of the migratory sharks that may pass by their waters,” the official said.

In Batangas, Lea Villanueva, provincial chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the most common reasons for the death of whale sharks “are climate change and people who use illegal means to kill and earn from marine mammals.”

Villanueva said the City Environment and Natural Resources Office did not coordinate with her office about the latest butanding death.

She said she did not even see the fish before it was buried and that those who found it must have at least gathered basic information, such as length, size and width.

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