09 October 2013

'911' FOR MARINE MAMMALS | Stranding Network volunteers meeting in Subic

MANILA - With its famously long coastline, the Philippines is, not surprisingly, one of the places where stranded marine mammals end up and are rescued each year.

From Wednesday to Friday (Oct. 9-11) the network of volunteers and supporters that has made a vocation out of responding to stranded mammals is meeting at Subic.

Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN) will hold its first national symposium on Wednesday to Friday at the Camayan Beach Resort Hotel and Ocean Adventure, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, to gather its members and supporters who have been involved in responding to stranded marine mammals for eight years now.

Around the same time last year, three whales were found stranded in Zambales, La Union, and Zamboanga, all in one week, eventually dying, or already dead.

The symposium aims to “share knowledge and experiences” in marine mammal stranding, to “discuss relevant data and issues” particularly on these creatures as “valuable sentinels of ocean and human health”, and to broaden the network while addressing the issues related to its functions.

They are composed of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, local government units, coastal communities, and private individuals who have responded to strandings, said PMMSN.

It added that the network was established because of the Philippines’ “long coastline”, the threat faced by marine mammals, and the number of strandings in the country which involve live animals (seven out of ten stranders are alive).

It has certified over 2,500 responders in the country, especially since Regions 1, 3, 5, and 7 are noted as “stranding hotspots”, where more marine mammals are stranded than in other regions.

The symposium involves “hands-on stranding response training”, as well as talks on such topics as the techniques in the initial response to stranding, veterinary medical issues, and the rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals, said PMMSN.

There will be discussions on “Necropsy Procedures and Precautions for Marine Mammals”, “Impacts of Dolphin Watching on Dolphin Behavior and Dolphin Watching Protocols”, and “Special Case Studies of Stranding Response in Region 2”. (Tricia Aquino, InterAksyon.com)