BEACHED. Ten of 25 Fraser’s dolphins stranded in a coastal village in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur on Tuesday (Jan. 26, 2021) are found dead, possibly due to trauma caused by blast fishing at the Ragay Gulf. Villagers who discovered the dolphins took care of eight others while local responders released seven back to the waters. (Photo courtesy of BFAR-Bicol)

LEGAZPI CITY – Ten of 25 Fraser’s dolphins that were stranded in a coastal village in Del Gallego town, Camarines Sur province on Tuesday morning were found dead, possibly due to trauma caused by blast fishing, an official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

The beached dolphins were found by villagers at the shores of Barangay Magais 1 at about 4 a.m., BFAR-Bicol spokesperson, Nonie Enolva, said.

Eight of the dolphins were taken care of by the villagers while seven were released back to the waters by local responders.

In a phone interview, Enolva said the stranded dolphins were probably victims of blast fishing at the Ragay Gulf where they suffered trauma and sought refuge in nearby shores.

Dolphins, like other sea mammals, usually stay in deep waters for 15 minutes to 20 minutes and surface to breathe. However, when they are disturbed, they look for a sanctuary where they could recover from the shock by putting up their head and lie on the surface to breathe.

“The shock waves due to blast fishing at the Ragay Gulf could have caused the sea mammals' lungs to collapse, which resulted in their drowning,” she said, noting that blasts that develop shock waves could cause the mammals to lose their balance and coordination in swimming as they maintain an upright position to breathe at the surface.

Ragay Gulf is considered a “hot spot” for blast fishing.

Enolva said a team of fishery technicians was sent to examine the dolphins and collect specimens to determine what caused their deaths.

She said villagers earlier sighted a pod of dolphins in the waters of Tagkawayan town, Quezon province, and the neighboring town of Del Gallego.

In October last year, nine melon-headed whales, reportedly victims of blast fishing, were washed ashore at a coastal village in San Andres town, Catanduanes province.

Records of the Philippine Marine Stranding Network showed that Bicol has a high incidence of mass stranding in the past three years due to illegal fishing practices. (PNA)