Photos showing a diver’s gruesome underwater discovery of chopped-up fish and dolphin parts have gone viral and raise serious questions about illicit fishing practices taking place in the Philippines.
Scuba diver and underwater photographer Penn De Los Santos took the heartbreaking photos of fins, snouts, and tails that he believes had been freshly sliced off of pantropical spotted dolphins and sailfish.
“As a scuba diver and underwater photographer I have learned how I can help change how we can all look at the world from a different perspective. We all like seeing beautiful underwater photos but sometimes our diving experiences show us some of the saddest pictures,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I was on a dive last week when I saw what appeared to be a huge dorsal fin of a sailfish (maybe a marlin), then its long pointed snout. I looked around and noticed that there were more fish parts scattered in the area. I almost cried when I saw a dolphin tail, a dorsal fin, and what looked like pectoral fins. They were all cleanly cut with a sharp knife,” he added, noting that the parts were found at about eight to ten meters in depth.
De Los Santos told Coconuts Manila that he spotted the body parts just off the coast of San Juan, Batangas.
He also said that he heard a series of what sounded like dynamite explosions. “It sounded far but it got me scared so I decided to do my safety stop and proceeded to ascend. I brought the tail and the dorsal fin to the surface and took more photos of them,” he said.
According to De Los Santos, there was still fresh blood oozing out of the dorsal fin when he brought it out of the water. The diver said he was unsure as to why or how the animals were caught and butchered.
De Los Santos said he brought the matter up with the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) in Batangas, who said they will communicate with local barangay officials to investigate the incident.
Fisheries Administrative Order No. 185 prohibits the sale, purchase, transport, or export of dolphins in any state or form. Under the order, it is also unlawful to wound or kill dolphins in the course of catching another fish, and any dolphin accidentally caught must be returned to the sea unharmed.