A 3-meter-long pygmy sperm whale washed ashore in the village of Talisayan, Zamboanga City on Friday afternoon.
Mariano Pandalan, a barangay tanod, saw the beached mammal along the shores of Sitio San Ramon and immediately reported it to village officials when he saw the wounded whale.
Pandalan said the whale was still wagging its tail when he first saw the mammal, which died a few hours later.
A boat from the Philippine Coast Guard towed the whale to the local office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, where personnel of the city veterinarian’s office conducted a necropsy.
This procedure helps determine the cause of death of a stranded marine mammal through careful examination of its internal organs.
Dr. Arnedo Agbayani, head of the animal health division, said that based on initial findings the whale was infected by parasitic worms, which quickly spread to its intestines and other organs.
He said the whale likely consumed infected fish and after a certain period the worm larvae molted and spread.
Agbayani said his team will send whale-tissue samples to the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Meteorology for confirmatory tests.
Besides parasitic worms, plastic trash were also found in the whale’s intestines, including a toothbrush cover.
Agbayani said garbage ingested by whales can affect their health.
On April 17, a dead dolphin was washed ashore along Paseo del Mar.
The marine mammal was also infected by parasitic worms based on a necropsy conducted by the city veterinarian’s office.