SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union: Rescuers from various agencies here tried but failed to save a stranded 20- meter sperm whale that local residents earlier thought to be a sea monster.
Initial autopsies conducted on the whale showed it sustained injuries from shark bites and had wounds that it got after being stranded in the sharp coral rocks in Barangay Lingsat Marine Sanctuary.
Poch Obena, city government aqua culturist, said the stranded cetacean was first seen bleeding by local fisherman Rommel Garcia and his wife Winnie.
“We thought it was a sea monster and we were afraid to go near it because water spouted from its mouth, it was strong hours ago, it was jumping up and down from the water so I thought that it was strong and had no injuries,” Rommel said.
“It was swimming southbound and it seemed it was not yet injured, when we went home ashore in Lingsat, we were surprised to see that it has arrived here first than us and we were so afraid of it because it was so big,” Winnie for her part said.
About 20 burly maritime students and Philippine Coast Guard personnel tried to extract the body by pulling thick ropes tied on it but gave up after low tide sank it farther down the bottom.
Earlier, other fishermen reported that they saw the whale swimming at the neighboring San Juan seawaters, particularly at the surfing area in Urbiztondo.
“It had a bite of a cookie cutter shark, when these fishes bite they tend to wriggle to cut away the flesh,” Henry Canlas, officer in charge of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) marine and fisheries section, told The Manila Times.
Canlas added that sperm whales usually tend to go ashore when they are not feeling well or they are sick to catch some air as they are too weak to swim.
This procedure usually, causes whales to die due to their heaviness that they cannot carry their body back to the depth. “That’s when they are stranded.” Canlas noted.
Obeña said it is the discretion of the local government unit if it wants to preserve the mammal’s skeleton for exhibition or as an attraction to tourists.