CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A Megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) that was caught by a fisherman off Macabalan Bay Friday morning may have swum to shallow waters to prey on food, an officer from the regional Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-10) said.
“It was wounded and was still alive when it got entangled in the fisherman’s net,” Cheryl Magante, BFAR-10 Fishing Regulation Officer said, quoting reports from residents in the area. The shark, she added, possibly trailed a school of krill — a type of crustaceans that’s one of its dietary preferences.
However, when BFAR officials went in Macabalan to check the shark, residents have already slaughtered it and divided amongst them the meat. They only recovered half of the shark with its tail. They buried the remains in Brgy. Kauswagan.
Rare and endangered
According to Oceana, an organization that promotes protection and restoration of oceans, the Megamouth shark is a rare shark and is the smallest of the three species of filter-feeding sharks. Its weight can reach up to 1,215 kilograms.
What was caught in Macabalan, according to Magante, weighed about 400 kilograms. It was three meters long and a meter wide.
This type of shark, she said, is considered endangered, and catching, transporting, and killing them would be considered a criminal offense under the Republic Act 8550 or Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
BFAR-10 hasn’t taken any legal action yet, as the identity of those who slaughtered and ate the fish remained unidentified.
Although Megamouth sharks are usually found in deep waters, few were seen in shallow waters in recent months.
“Earlier this year, a group of seven or eight Megamouth sharks was sighted just near the shore of Cugman,” Magante shared.
In the past years, Megamouth sharks and Whale sharks, known by the locals as “tanguy tanguy” and “tawiki,” respectively were sighted in Macajalar Bay and nearby municipal waters. (Jigger Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)