Megamouth, whale sharks resurface in Macajalar Bay

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — At least five whale sharks have been spotted by fisherfolk in the Macajalar Bay in parts of Talisayan, Misamis Oriental and the island province of Camiguin.

Former Land Transportation Office-10 Director Oscar Salcedo has witnessed the sightings and posted it on his social media accounts on Sunday.

He said he talked to some fishermen in the vicinity and told him that there have been some observations of whale sharks and megamouth sharks in Misamis Oriental water before, specifically in the municipal waters of Balingoan and Talisayan.

In the past decades, Talisayan used to celebrate “Tawiki Festival” because of the abundance of whale sharks spotted in the area, which was said to have a population size similar in Oslob, Cebu.

Whale sharks spotted in Talisayan, Misamis Oriental. (Photo courtesy of Oscar Salcedo)

However, it slowly diminished because of illegal fishing activities.

They were hunted for their fins by people of coastal communities until the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources banned the practice in 1998, Talisayan Municipal Administrator Mariano Candano said.

In 2016, Mayor Rommel Maslog planned to develop whale shark sight-seeing tours to attract tourists and perk up local tourism, but they suddenly disappeared with no specific explanation, with BFAR even wondering how they disappeared.

Most of the whale sharks found in the Philippines have lengths of five to seven meters, the smallest whale shark in the world was found in Bicol waters at 0.46m in length.

The whale shark has a distinguishable checkerboard and spots pattern on its body except in the ventral side. Another distinguishing feature of the whale shark is its terminally located mouth.

They are found throughout the Philippines with a number of feeding aggregations near the coast, such as the Ticao/Burias Pass, Bohol/Mindanao Sea, and Puerto Princesa Bay.  These feeding aggregation sites are the location of a lucrative whale shark interaction tourism enterprise. -PNA

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