Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dolphin Saved by Eight-Year-Old Boy

 By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

September is the time when dolphins are hunted in a Japanese town called Taiji. It is legal and has been going on since before the 17th century. Some 2000 dolphins are killed. A few are captured and sold to sea parks. The 2009 Oscar winning documentary, “The Cove” dwells on this.

But perhaps one of the dolphins got away, namely the 2.5 meter Risso dolphin, which was big as a whale, that eight-year-old Carl Andre Leuterio spotted while he was playing with his friends along the shore.

This happened in Barangay Poblacion, San Teodoro in Mindoro, an island near Luzon and northeast of Palawan. Through the heavy rain Carl saw the red eyes, and the dolphin’s heavy skin secretions. He knew the dolphin was weak.

Carl decided the sea animal wasn’t a shark because this dolphin came to the shore. It was large as a whale, but it was not likely to harm him. He spontaneously embraced the dolphin, and then he informed the authorities.

A third-grader from San Teodoro Central School, Carl has grown up by the sea. Just the month before, he closely watched as fisher folk freed a turtle that was caught in their nets, and sent the sea animal back into the deep.

Terence Panado of Bantay Dagat, and Jacinto Abdon of the Municipal Fishery Management were the first to reach the scene. As others arrived, they slowly guided the dolphin to deeper waters where he was released. The procedure took three hours.

The International Whaling Commission does not protect porpoises and dolphins. However, they oppose Taiji dolphin drive hunts which are not motivated by sustenance or culture. Dolphin and whale watching are good alternatives. Even better, photograph sea creatures as Poulsen does so others can appreciate the deep through a blog.  

For a poor family, a sick dolphin is also a tempting source for a lot of meals in the next few days. Kudos to little Carl. WWF Philippines gave him a “hero of the environment award” and P10,000.  Also awarded an equal amount of money were Panado and Abdon.

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