BFAR to public: Don’t touch beached juvenile sharks

BFAR to public: Don’t touch beached juvenile sharks
Screenshot from Cris Ungab Oniong's video

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Visayas has issued a warning about juvenile sharks recently found washed up on the shores of Santander, the southernmost town of Cebu.

BFAR also advised the public to avoid these sharks to ensure the safety of both people and animals. The bureau also warned the public from illegally capturing these baby sharks for the illegal trade of shark fin, which is used as an ingredient in some exotic cuisine.

A video shared by various media outlets in Cebu since Feb. 17, 2024, showed baby sharks swimming in the shallow waters of Barangay Pasil, Santander.

Johann Tejada, spokesperson for BFAR 7, told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, Feb. 29, that while this scenario should not be viewed as a threat, the public should still treat these animals with respect and take precautions.

He urged residents to avoid approaching the waters where baby sharks are present for safety reasons, as it has not been determined whether these shark species are aggressive. These sharks are believed to be of the blacktip sharks.

Tejada noted that sharks are naturally apex predators, occupying the top of the food chain in their ecosystem, and have no natural predators. However, he cannot say that the species are aggressive.

He, however, advised the public not to be complacent around them.

Tejada said this is not the first time residents have witnessed such a scenario. According to them, it’s a recurring annual incident during this period.

“During this time of the year, going towards summer, these sharks go out from their habitat. The residents are aware of this,” he said.

In an earlier interview, Tejada said the recent sightings of juvenile sharks near the shallow waters in Santander are likely correlated with the beaching of fish in Ginatilan town. He attributed the fish beachings of past weeks to a rise in the fish population.

He said small pelagic fish attract bigger fish, including sharks, which hunt them as an essential part of their diet. He said this is a natural process of predator-prey relationships.

SunStar Cebu earlier reported that fish populations have risen due to a three-month fishing ban from November to February in the Visayan Sea.

The yearly ban, BFAR 7 said, helps replenish the fish population, leading to an abundance of marine life from Tañon Strait to southern Cebu.

In a statement, the local government of Santander said last Tuesday, Feb. 27, that both residents should refrain from swimming in the area and touching the baby sharks.

“We kindly request the community to refrain from throwing stones or disturbing the baby sharks,” they said.

In 1998, a department order issued Fisheries Administrative Order 193, which prohibits the taking, selling, purchasing, possession, transportation and exportation of the shark species. / KJF


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