Another dead dugong — or sea cow — washes up in Palawan

dugong
The dead dugong, or . Picture by Vivian Soriano

The body of a seven foot long male dugong — or sea cow — has been found washed ashore in Puerto Princesa City.

Vivian Soriano, senior ecosystems management specialist of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, said the dead sea cow was observed to have scars and scratches all over its body.

The creature was found off Purok Baybay, Barangay Babuyan, by fisherman Brandon Tunga at about 1pm on Saturday (May 5).

Soriano said an led by Dr Theresa Aquino of the Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines revealed that the sea cow had “fluid in the chest cavity” with its stomach “full of undigested food with no plastic or garbage inside as previously suspected”.

“The actual cause of death could not be determined although the necropsy findings hinted to the possibility of drowning,” she added.

“There’s a large bruise of the dugong behind the pectoral fin, but maybe it got it due to a natural cause or maybe when it accidentally hit something in the sea.

“This is the second time this year that a dead dugong was reported from the area that’s why we will be doing a monitoring in Babuyan to determine what is causing the deaths and if there is a population, how many are there?

“We will do the monitoring because we do not want dead sea cows to turn up from the area. It’s critically-endangered, which means its population needs protection,” she said.

The dugong is the largest sea-living mammal which grazes on seagrass.

The rare species is classified as “critically endangered” under DENR Administrative Order 2004-15.

As we reported in March, the carcass of a female adult “dugong” was found by a local fisherman on a sandbar in the same barangay. It weighed an estimated 400 kilograms and more nearly 10 feet in length.