Hundreds of dolphins, whales seen in Sarangani Bay

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Marine experts have spotted around 270 dolphins and whales these past weeks in parts of Sarangani Bay and more species, including those considered critical and vulnerable, could reportedly be thriving in the area.

This was based on the result of the third quarter monitoring in the bay last Aug. 13 to 16 by marine biologists and divers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 12 and its partner agencies.

A report released on Sunday by DENR-12 said around 150 to 200 Fraser’s or Sarawak dolphins (Lagenodelphis hosei) were monitored off this city and Glan town, Sarangani province; 40 to 60 Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) in Glan and Malapatan, Sarangani; six Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) in Glan; four pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata) in Malapatan; and two dwarf/pygmy sperm whales (Kogia breviceps) in Malapatan.

But the monitoring team also observed patches of garbage floating within the bay such as polyethylene terephthalate or PET bottles, cellophanes, plastic wrappers and other non-biodegradable materials.

They monitored a number of fishing vessels conducting various activities within the bay, which is a declared protected seascape.

“These may harm the cetaceans and other marine organisms (in the bay),” the report said.

The quarterly monitoring was initiated by the DENR-12 and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape to track down developments and day-to-day undertaking of establishments within the bay.

The team is composed of personnel from the DENR-Office of the Protected Area Superintendent, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Environmental Conservation and Protection Center-Sarangani and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office here.

Dr. Sabdullah Abubacar, DENR-12 regional executive director, said the latest monitoring showed that Sarangani Bay remains a key marine biodiversity area and should be properly protected, especially in terms of the proliferation of potentially hazardous wastes.

He reiterated the need for local stakeholders to continue working together to improve its ecosystem.

“DENR alone cannot protect (it). We have to synergize our work and activities to help and preserve the bay,” he said in a statement.

Abubacar, who chairs the PAMB, directed the Environmental Management Bureau-12 EMB to provide issuances, violations and actions taken on local establishments.

He said the move would determine how the board worked and already accomplished in terms of enforcement.

Joy Ologuin, protected area superintendent for Sarangani Bay, said local government units in the area should intensify efforts to prevent wastes from entering the bay.

“Regular patrolling is also necessary to regulate the activities within the bay,” she said.

Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon, PAMB vice chairperson, expressed support to these moves, noting that the “sighted species will vanish if the in and out movements in bay will not be fixed and monitored.”

He committed to provide financial assistance to the agency for the conduct of monthly monitoring of marine mammals.

“The implementation of the rules should be strict so that everyone will follow. We can have the economic development and preservation of the protected seascape at the same time,” he said. -PNA

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