Feeding whale sharks in Oslob ‘may alter’ their behavior: expert-A A +A
Friday, August 31, 2012
CEBU CITY – The practice of feeding whale sharks is putting them at risk, a marine mammal expert said.
Dr. Lemnuel Aragones told reporters that feeding whale sharks is an “irresponsible use of natural resources, which could easily be mismanaged and abused.”
He added that it is the sound that the fishermen make while tapping or knocking on their boats that attract the whale sharks.
Aragones, who was also the consultant of environmental lawyers who filed a case for the protection of dolphins in Tañon Strait, added that the practice is “conditioning” the animals to being fed and this may result in a change in their behavior.
“They should not be doing that,” he said.
“There is a hypothesis of scientists that may explain their (whale sharks) presence (in Oslob). There is upwelling in that section,” he added.
Upwelling is the movement of the sea from the bottom to the surface, said Aragones, adding that this occurs seasonally.
He added that with this sea action, the nutrients from the bottom move to the surface.
“We still don’t know much about the oceanography in that area,” said Aragones.
He said more studies should be done on oceanographic processes and behavior and that these studies would take time.
Meanwhile, Physalus president Dr. Alessandro Ponzo sent a statement to Sun.Star Cebu in reaction to the statement of Oslob Mayor Ronald Guaren regarding a study conducted in the area.
“The report from Physalus was presented, printed and given to the LGU (local government unit), BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) Central Visayas, PAWB Central Visayas, the Provincial Government in May 2012 after the first 45 days of research in the water,” he said.
“The report, which included observation on the compliances with the Whale Shark Watching Ordinance and scientific data on the presence and behavior of the whale sharks in Oslob, has been presented to the Towsfa, the mayor Of Oslob, The Municipal Council, DENR-PAWB Central Visayas and ICRMP on several occasions, the latest of which was two days ago in a meeting with the fishermen association (Towsfa) in Tan-awan,” he added.
The group was reacting to Guaren’s statement, wherein he told Sun.Star Cebu that he has yet to receive the result of a study on the unique behavior of whale sharks in his town.
Guaren had said he is asking scientists why whale sharks live near Oslob.
Theresa Mundita Lim, Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENR-PAWB) director, sent the regional environment office to start working on stopping the feeding of whale sharks is Oslob town as this is against the protocol on whale shark watching.
Lim’s memorandum was in response to an email from whale shark researcher Elson Q. Aca addressed to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje about the feeding in Oslob. (BAP of Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2012.