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PAWB probes death of dugong in Palawan

MANILA, Philippines - The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) is sending a technical team to investigate the reported death of a dugong (sea cow) in Busuanga, Palawan.

PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim also reiterated her call to the public to report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources any sighting or stranding of dugong or any other marine wildlife for investigation and rescue.

A 2.6-meter male dugong was found dead in a seaweed farm in Busuanga on Dec. 6.

Citing a report by the non-government organization, Community Center Conservation (C3) Philippines, Lim said the sea mammal drowned after getting tangled up in a rope.

“The dugong, just like the dolphin and whale, needs to surface for air periodically,” she said.

She said the PAWB team will coordinate with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development on the need to develop early warning system and protocol and rescue and release of trapped marine animals.

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The London-based C3, which has been working to conserve dugongs in Busuanga, reported that the dugong was discovered by two fishermen in Sitio Minit in Barangay Cheey.

It was believed the dugong had been dead for more than 24 hours before it was discovered.

Dugongs, also known as duyong, mainly feed on seagrass and maintain the ecological health of seagrass beds as food and habitat for other marine animals such as sea turtles and smaller fishes. However, they are being slaughtered for their meat, oil, skin and bones.

The seaweed farm, where the dead dugong was discovered, is a known sighting area for the sea mammal.

It was the second time this year that a dugong was found dead in Palawan. Earlier this year, another adult dugong was discovered dead off Coron Island.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s main authority on the conservation of biological species, lists dugong as threatened and vulnerable to extinction.

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