BFAR warns vs parasites in sharks, stingrays

By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Parasites with their larva settling in the orifice of sharks and stingrays may harm humans when ingested through the favorite Bicol dish ‘kinunot.’ Nonie Enolva, spokesperson of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said they have observed a parasite species called Phyllobotrium delphini present in stranded sea mammals and also in sharks and stingrays as its hosts. Stingrays and sharks are the main ingredient of Bicol dish kinunot of which their meat is shredded and cooked in coconut milk with lemon or vinegar, malunggay (Moringa) and spiced with red or green pepper, tomatoes, ginger, onions and garlic. Enolva, however, clarified that no case yet of Phyllobotrium delphini has been recorded that it can be transferred to humans, although the possibility is always there. She said the larva of the parasite which becomes worms settles in the tissues of sea mammals, sharks and stingrays which when not killed may adapt to the tissues of humans. Enolva said infestation of parasites is the main cause of stranding of dolphins and whales that became sick and sought refuge in the shallow waters around Bicol region. She said Bicol has the highest number of stranding incidents all over the Philippines from 2015-17 at 111 stranding incidents and from January-October this year 19 stranding incidents recorded. Enolva said the stranding of dolphins and whales happened in all the provinces in Bicol which include a giant sperm whale, spinner dolphin, Fraser dolphin, stripped dolphin, common bottlenose dolphin, pygmy killer whale, Risso’s dolphin and dwarf sperm whale. She said aside from parasites, dolphins were also observed to have been infected with sea lice in their eyes. Flushing the eyes with coconut water is the most effective way to get rid of the parasites and help the dolphins recover, she said. Enolva added that playing lullabies and love songs also help dolphins recover because these sounds help them calm and reduce palpitation during stressful moments.