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PIA Press Release

Sarangani Bay Festival preludes with cetaceans awareness training

Maasim, Sarangani (May 24) -- Volunteer experts in marine mammals from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conducted a weekend marine mammals awareness seminar among local officials, employees and private representative here Saturday (May 22).

"The sightings of marine wildlife in Sarangani Bay such as pygmy sperm whale, whale shark, seacow, lemon-headed whale, fraiser dolphin and marine turtles signify that the bay has a rich biodiversity," said Jo Marie Acebes.

Acebes works with the WWF and a doctorate candidate in Murdoch University in Western Australia.

Sarangani's Environment Conservation and Protection Center head researcher Giff Paraba and her team have documented sightings of the said marine mammals at the 215,950-hectare Sarangani Bay.

Sarangani Bay was declared a protected seascape through Presidential Decree 756 in 1996. Sarangani Bay Festival started as a provincial celebration in 2006 with various beach sports activities at the Gumasa white sand beaches.

Sarangani Bay Festival is now the biggest beach party in Southern Philippines tripling its guests from 7,500 in 2007 to 17,500 in 2009.

"These cetaceans should remain in the wild. We see them all over the world's wildlife. That includes Sarangani Bay," Jose Marie Tan, WWF Chief Executive Officer said.

Cetaceans is the term applied to species of dolphins and whales.

"The future of dolphins and whales relies on natural interactions so we have to know their exact locations for tourism purposes. We have to know the deep, bottom configuration of Sarangani Bay."

For his part, Governor Migs Dominguez said Lemlunay Diving Resort in Maasim town is a good spot to watch and start the rescue training for any stranded marine mammal on sight for the next two days.

"It is an opportunity for Sarangani to capitalize on this," Tan said.

In Kiamba town, the municipal government has instituted the protection of its Tuka Marine Park and coral colony. When coral spawning takes place, Tan said, seawater becomes itchy and stingy which happens on a full moon.

"Whales are filter feeders. They feed on these substances to clear and maintain the seawater again."

Maitum and Kiamba had both passed municipal ordinances declaring barangays Old Poblacion and Suli as nesting grounds for marine turtles respectively.

"I think Sarangani Bay Festival must highlight the measures made in terms of protecting the bay as a way of supporting and preserving it," Acebes said.

In 2006, then board member Rommel Tomas Falgui passed a resolution at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan institutionalizing the celebration of the Sarangani Bay Festival each May. (Russtum Pelima/Sarangani Information Office) [top]

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