MANILA, The Philippines -- A small whale stranded Tuesday in the polluted shallow waters of Manila Bay died after seaside residents, who mistook it for a shark, pelted the marine mammal with rocks.
Local residents in a fishing "Floating Village" in suburban Paranaque City said some people had hit the two-meter (six-foot) dwarf sperm whale with stones because they initially thought it was a shark.
Edwyn Alesna, of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the whale could have found its way into Manila Bay after being separated from its pod when tropical storm Chanchu swept through the central Philippines over the weekend.
Veterinarians were examining the whale, including scratches and cuts on its body, to determine why it lost its way and died, he said, adding that whales coming close to shore are usually already ill.
It died at around 5 p.m. while it was being ferried to the Manila Yacht Club where it was supposed to wait for marine experts from the Ocean Adventure in Subic, said Dr. Ajerico Sebastian, officer-in-charge of the Zoological Division of Manila Zoo.
Alesna said the dwarf sperm whale is considered an endangered species. It is illegal to capture and slaughter whales and dolphins in the Philippines.
Salvacion Gentilezo, who lives on reclaimed land in Paranaque, said it was the first time a whale had been stranded in the area.
"The children were screaming, 'Shark!' 'Shark! 'Shark!'" she said. "I told them to keep away so they will not be eaten by the shark."
On closer look she said she could tell it was not a shark because it did not have large teeth. Other residents then tied up the whale to prevent it from being hurled against rocks and notified authorities.
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