RIPPED. A whale shark's tail was found floating near the port of San Ricardo, Southern Leyte province on Monday (October 10, 2022). A cargo vessel’s propeller slashed a whale shark in half, according to the local government on Tuesday (October 11). (Photo courtesy of San Ricardo municipal agriculture office)

TACLOBAN CITY – A cargo vessel’s propeller slashed a whale shark in half in Sogod Bay, the local government unit of San Ricardo town in Southern Leyte province reported on Tuesday.

San Ricardo municipal agriculturist Lauro Elejerde, Jr. said on Tuesday the crew of a sea vessel docking at the town’s Benit Port saw the floating lower limb of a whale shark around 3 p.m. on Monday.

“The whale shark’s body was totally separated and its very obvious that a propeller of cargo vessel slashed the marine mammal,” Elejerde told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

The four-meter-long shark was found just a few meters away from Benit port, the gateway of Leyte Island from Mindanao.

Cargo vessels have regular daily trips between Southern Leyte to Surigao.

Elejerde said it took two hours for divers from the Philippine Coast Guard to pull the carcass to the shore since the upper limb sank to the sea floor.

Benit port is located at the opening of Sogod Bay, a migratory area of whale sharks feasting on zooplankton, according to Elejerde.

Whale sharks have been attracting divers in Sogod Bay over the years.

The Philippine Coast Guard buried the dead shark after collecting tissue samples.

Whale shark is a large elasmobranch of the family Rhincodontidae characterized externally by a broad, flattened head, a huge and nearly terminal mouth, very large gill slits, three prominent longitudinal ridges on its upper flanks, a large first dorsal fin, a semi-lunate caudal fin and a unique "checkerboard" pattern of light spots and stripes on a dark background. (PNA)