Sarangani, Philippines – Sarangani Bay has proven once again why it is one of the archipelago’s most biodiverse bodies of water, with the frequent sightings of marine mammals as reported in the monthly monitoring by a composite team of provincial and regional environmentalists.
The monitoring team recently sighted three marine mammal species, which include spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and dugong or sea cow.
Spinner dolphins, small species known for acrobatic spins when they leap out of the water, are frequently seen near the waters of General Santos City, and the towns of Glan, Malapatan, and Alabel.
Meanwhile, Risso’s are medium-sized, grey-colored dolphins that could grow to about four meters, have big dorsal fins and linear scars, and most frequently sighted near Malapatan and Glan towns.
The periodic monitoring seeks to determine the frequency of the species of marine mammals, their usual sighting and location, estimate their population and density and observe their behavior and activities.
Data generated from the undertaking can also be used for future research studies and ecotourism activities. Currently, the bay is among top beach getaways in Southern Mindanao–the powdery white sand beaches of Glan, the beach parks and resorts of Gen. Santos, the dive spots of Maasim, and the marine sanctuary of Kiamba.
According to Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, the mammal sightings attests to its abundant marine resources, which provide wildlife a safe and ecologically balanced habitat.
He noted that based on the team’s reports, juvenile dolphins and whales can be spotted, which indicate that they are increasing in number, and they find the bay a safe haven to nurture their young because of the abundant source of food, which comprises of fish, squid, octopus, jellyfish, and shrimps.
Funded by Sarangani’s Sulong Kalikasan program, the province has taken a more active role in supporting conservation efforts of the body of water where it was named after.
The composite monitoring team is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, Gen. Santos City Environment and Natural Resources Office, and Sarangani’s Environmental Conservation and Protection Center.
Last year, over 270 dolphins and whales have been spotted third quarter monitoring of the Bay.
Declared a Protected Seascape by the DENR in 1996, Sarangani Bay covers an area of 215,950 hectares and covers the six coastal municipalities of Sarangani and Gen. Santos City. Regarded as the diving haven of the Soccsksargen region, its coral resources cover more than 2,293 hectares spread over 20 coral reef areas with about 60 important live hard coral genera, 411 reef species in 46 families. Its seagrass cover is placed at 912 hectares, with 11 species.