Gentle Whale Sharks of the Philippines get president's attention

03/04/2010 03:37
Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has just taken a bold step in the preservation of whale sharks by issuing an order directing all concerned agencies of government to protect migratory whale sharks locally known as 'Butanding'.

Who’s afraid of Sharks? Almost all of us are afraid of sharks. They are known to attack and kill, and eat humans too. But there is one kind of shark that is friendly to humans and it can be seen in Donsol, Philippines. According to studies made on different species of sharks, there are about 10 deadly sharks in our ocean floor.

They are: Bull Shark, Great White Shark, Tiger Shark, Ocean White Tips, Short Fin Mako, Grey Reef, Sand Tiger, Hammerhead, Blue Shark and Lemon Shark. It is very surprising that Whale Sharks are not included in the list of deadly sharks notwithstanding The Donsol Whale Sharks are popularly known in town as “Butanding”.

It is a multi-dotted Whale Shark that measure anywhere from 15 to about 40 feet in length. The “Butandings” as they are known here are gentle giants of the sea. They come to the waters of Donsol from the months of October up to early May every year. They are a friendly and sociable creature that playfully interacts with humans who visit their chosen habitat in this coastal area of Donsol, Sorsogon.

Last March 16, these gentle sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon got the attention of Philippine president Gloria Arroyo when she issued an administrative order directing directing all concerned government agencies to protect the whale shark, known locally as Butanding, and sustain eco-tourism developments in coastal communities where whale sharks have migrated.

“The recent incident of whale shark killing last Feb. 15, 2010 in Tingloy, Batangas was a direct affront to the Philippine government as host to the meeting of experts that crafted the Conservation Plan for Migratory Sharks and as signatory to the MOU (memorandum of understanding) to achieve and maintain a favorable conservation status for migratory sharks based on the best available scientific studies,” the order stated.

Concerned local government units were ordered to rescue wounded whale sharks in their areas of jurisdiction and coordinate with any unit of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, or PNP Maritime Command, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the proper care, treatment, and release of the rescued whale sharks back into the wild.

The gentle whale sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon in the Philippines continue to draw tourists from around the world to witness and interact with the Sharks in their habitat.


(original article appeared @ Digital Journal )

© 2010 Leo Reyes All rights reserved.

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