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Dolphin, turtles die in 2 Negros towns

September 10, 2006

BY CARLA GOMEZ

WHY are creatures of the sea seeking refuge and dying in the shores of Negros Occidental?

Yesterday a spinner dolphin died in Hinigaran town, while earlier four turtles were found in EB Magalona town waters, two of which also died.

Stephan Groenewold, a doctor of marine ecology and fishery science with the German Development Service, and who is a volunteer consultant for the Southern Negros Coastal Development Program, called on municipal agriculturists to take samples from the dead marine animals intestines and take photos of their mouths and other parts so the causes of their deaths can be analyzed.

“It cannot be conclusively said that all of them died because of the MT Solar 1 oil spill as it is not unusual for such creatures to be washed ashore,” Groenewold told the DAILY STAR.

“However, we have to keep close watch for such deaths so analysis can be conducted to determine why they are dying and if it has anything to do with the oil spill,” he said.

A 6-feet long and 3-feet wide female spinner dolphin was washed ashore in Barangay Tagda, Hinigaran, yesterday and was brought out to deeper waters 4 kilometers from the shore to help it swim away, Hinigaran municipal agriculturist Dimple Guanzon said.

However, Guanzon said they received a report that the dolphin had returned at past noon to the shores of Barangay 2 in Hinigaran.

Fishermen Ruben and Bernabe Temblor and Joven Villar again tried five times to bring the dolphin back to deeper waters and it kept coming back and died at 3 p.m., Guanzon said.

Guanzon said he could not say if the oil spill had caused the dolphin’s death as it did not smell of oil.

A Hinigaran oil spill watch team that patrolled its waters yesterday up to 12 kilometers from the shore did not see any oil spill, he said.

Board Member Francis Gerald Tuvilla said the dolphin was buried in Hinigaran last night.

Spinner dolphins are famous for their acrobatic displays in which they will spin longitudinally along their axis as they leap through the air.

TURTLES DIE

Meanwhile, EB Magalona Mayor Alfonso Gamboa told the DAILY STAR the discovery of four turtles in the waters of his town, two of which died, was highly unusual and was cause for alarm.

On Aug. 24 a dead Hawksbill turtle covered in oil was found dead in EB Magalona, he said.

On Sept. 2 a female green sea turtle was found in Barangay Manta-angan, EB Magalona, but was sucessfully returned to sea.

On Sept. 4 a very weak male green sea turtle also landed on the shores of Barangay Manta-angan and attempts to bring it to deeper waters for release failed as it kept coming back to shore, Gamboa said.

The turtle that is now under the care of Dr. Leo Suarez, Negros Ecological and Forest Foundation veterinarian, showed an improvement in its health on Tuedsay, Gamboa said.

Gamboa said another green sea turtle already dead and in an advanced state of decomposition was found in the waters between Barotac Nuevo and EB Magalona on Sept. 6.

Gerry Ledesma, president of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, said he reported the turtle situation in EB Magalona to Romy Trono, country representative of Conservation International, who is attending an international convention on marine turtles in Sabah, Malaysia.

Trono will raise the situation in EB Magalona at the convention to get expert inputs on it, Ledesma added.

Groenewold, who conducted four days of underwater surveys in Guimaras this week because of the oil spill, said they found no visible mass mortality of corals and fish, but there are indications of environmental stress.

However, corals are responding with enhanced mogus production, which is the second step after tissue swelling, he said.

(From the Vis. Daily Star, Sept. 9, 2006.)

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