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Megamouth



Megamouth Shark # 47: Megamouth shark in Whale Shark waters

March 31, 2009

Sources of Information:

Elson Q. Aca
Project Manager
Whale Shark Tracking in Donsol, Sorsogon Project
World Wide Fund for Nature Ė Philippines (WWF-Phils)
Email: eaca@wwf.org.ph
Mobile Nos.: +63 918 9220738
+63 921 2188811
Megamouth #46
© Elson Q. Aca
xxx


Every year whale sharks visits Donsol to feed on Burias passí plankton rich waters. And now, we have documented another filter feeding shark in these waters but in a most unfortunate circumstance.

In the morning of March 30, 2009 fishermen from Donsol caught on their gill nets a megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) while fishing for Alumahan (Rastrelliger kanagurta) and Tulingan (Auxis rochei) on the eastern coast of Burias island on the waters of Burias pass. Already dead and unable to put the shark on board, they tied it up and dragged it to Barangay Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon.

People have been notified and news reached WWFPhilippines office in Donsol in order for proper identification and documentation of the catch. Elson Q. Aca, project manager of the Donsol Field office, responded to the call to investigate on the matter.

megamouth


Upon reaching the site, the fishermen were cooperative in giving out information about the catch and even help out in measuring the shark. Mr. Aca provided necessary information about the shark and answers questions of the onlookers about its existence. It was also an opportune time to interview fishermen about the regularity of the catch and it seems that in the 1970s or 1980s a similar animal was caught in the area, butchered and eaten by locals. No other detailed information was gotten from that shark.

The recent shark measures four (4) meters long and roughly 400-500kg was a male and has some cuts near the left side of the mouth. It was accidentally caught in the eastern side of Burias island with a depth of approximately 200 meters using a gill net. The stomach content was investigated and saw several balaw (shrimp larvae) inside. The fishermen continued chopping the shark for distribution and probably for selling. Mr. Aca recommended that the shark would not be consumed since the reason of its death is not known. Possibility of a disease may be transferred to humans when the meat is digested. However, shark and ray meat cooked in coconut milk, chilli pepper and malunggay is a local delicacy called kinunot. The selling of any shark meat in the area cost around Php 40 to 70 per kilo and the ironic thing was, it would cost much cheaper if it comes from a shark that is not well known like this one coming from a megamouth.

This incident only put emphasis the importance of these waters in terms of biodiversity of its marine life. We donít however want to these animals as part of just some statistics like those of a megamouth whose identification is based on just the number of sighting/stranding (less than 50). Ample protection should be taken because it could be a haven for the two (of three) filter feeding sharks namely the whale shark and megamouth. Megamouth shark presence isnít suprising if you consider the existence of food in the area. Who knows in the future the basking shark (the other filter feeding shark) will find its way to these waters too. Letís continue to provide them a healthy environment so that we could pass on our children a living planet (and not the one they only read on books as part of history).

© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth




© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth


© Elson Q. Aca
megamouth