LEGAZPI CITY---In the graveyard of whales and dolphins inside the 15-hectare compound of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Barangay Fabrica in Bula town, Camarines Sur, pink candles were lighted in each tombs of sea mammals buried at cetacean cemetery.
Pots of flowers were also put up in between the tombs along with the pink candles within the cetacean cemetery a day before the All Souls ‘Day and All Saints’ Day celebration.
The burial ground is the country’s first cetacean cemetery for the finned and carnivorous aquatic mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises found and stranded in Bicol few years ago.
These dead mammals were fished out and found by the local fishers and brought to BFAR’s RFFC for a necropsy conducted by the members of the Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Responding Team to determine the probable cause of death for scientific study by the students and researchers.
Currently, according to Nonie Enolva, BFAR regional spokesperson said that dozens of dead whales and dolphins were buried at cetacean cemetery located in their 15-hectare compound.
“We have 13 whales and dolphins buried at cetacean cemetery since its establishment,” she said.
The cemetery for dead marine mammals was built to raise public awareness about endangered or threatened mammals like whales and dolphins and other marine species here.
The cemetery was established in June 2013 under the Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team, a group conducting emergency rescue operation and postmortem examination of endangered marine species.
Enolva along with other BFAR employees light up candles in the site during All Souls Day and All Saints Day celebration here.
Enolva said that Bicol region is a hotspot of endangered sea mammals due to archipelagic location. She said that Bicol region has the highest record of stranded sea mammals since 2015 with 12 to 21 stranding incidents per year.
This year alone, according to Enolva, at least 11 dead mammals were found stranded in various shorelines across the Bicol region or a total of 95 stranded sea mammals this year.
“Bicol is a hotspot of endangered sea mammals due to archipelagic location. We have the highest numbers of stranded sea mammals since 2015 from 12 to 21 stranding incidents per year,” she said.
“When you say hotspot of marine mammals stranding means that we have a lot of stranded cases or more sightings of whales and dolphins,” she explained.
When asked the probable causes of stranded sea mammals, she said that majority of the incidents were caused by human interaction be it by catch or accidental catching or caused by blast fishing.
Since 2005, Enolva said, more than 200 stranded in Bicol or more than 900 across the country. When asked the importance of marine mammals in biodiversity, she said that sea mammals help out to maintain the ecological balance of the seas as apex predators.
“They maintain ecological balance of the seas since they’re apex predators. Mainly their role as top consumer of the so called trophic levels these creatures are important to maintain ecological balance,” she said.