Stakeholders move to protect thriving dolphins in Sarangani Bay

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Environment personnel and local stakeholders have stepped up their monitoring and enforcement activities in parts of Sarangani Bay to protect the thriving dolphin population and other fish species in the area.

Kristopher Benzonan, technical staff of the Sarangani Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), said Friday they have set regular monitoring activities in portions of the bay to help maintain the quality of its waters and prevent activities that might harm its marine resources.

He said these include the conduct of marine mammal surveys to check on the status of the bay’s dolphin population.

The surveys are supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Area Management Board, City Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region 12.

Citing results of the three-day survey conducted last week, he said the team found more than 300 dolphins in portions of the Sarangani Bay.

Benzonan said they initially spotted 150 to 200 spinner dolphins off Barangay Lago in Glan, Sarangani Province.

The team also found pods of rissos and spinner dolphins off the boundaries of this city and Sarangani, he said.

A report on the third day of the survey posted by PENRO on its Facebook page said “the dolphins were as playful as the other dolphins previously sighted during the first day.”

“But these amazing cetaceans do not only play in the waves all day. They surely know how to rest as they were caught logging (one of their behaviors when resting and appearing like ‘logs’) at the surface,” it said.

The agency raised concern about scattered driftwoods and other debris of discarded wastes found by the team “floating at the surface of the water where these dolphins were swimming.”

“Thus, it is very important to properly dispose our garbage properly and keep our surroundings clean so as not to further pollute our water bodies, allowing these cetaceans and other marine life to swim and enjoy a healthy marine ecosystem,” it said.

Benzonan said they have linked up with local stakeholders to ensure the proper monitoring of the “feeding areas and playgrounds” of the dolphins.

He said the initiative includes the regular clean-up of portions of the bay of waste debris coming from the mainland areas.

“These wastes are usually carried into the bay during heavy rains,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol South Central Mindanao.

The Sarangani Bay serves as the natural drain of several major rivers traversing Sarangani, South Cotabato and this city.

The entire 211,913-hectare bay area was declared a protected seascape in 1996 through Presidential Proclamation 756, based on the provisions of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. –PNA

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