News spread like wildfire over the internet about that girl riding a tied-down whale shark on the shores of Boljoon, a town south of Cebu next to the whale shark feeding-frenzied Oslob. Ever since those infamous pictures were posted last March 31, social networking sites, local & international websites, travel bloggers, print media and more had their fair share of words about the unfortunate incident. To address the hot issue at-hand, reports have been filed, apologies have been publicized, and authorities have been notified & are now taking action towards educating the community about these gentle giants.
A major step taken was the “Whale Shark Orientation” held last April 26 at the municipal gym of Boljoon. Organized by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) and the Local Government Unit (LGU), in collaboration with Large Marine Vertebrate (LaMaVe) Organization, in partnership with Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF), the activity gathered officers & members of the different people’s organizations representing their respective barangays. The seminar was held to properly educate them about the “Tuki” (visayan name for whale Shark) as speakers discussed basic biological background, how to handle and treat well these majestic creatures, including especially the laws and ordinances that were made to protect such and other marine life.
The on-going orientations and the future seminars for the local community folks are one of the measures endeavored to spread & strengthen awareness about the whale sharks as it is listed in the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Animals. Hopefully, through these efforts, people, locals & tourists alike, will better understand the necessary action we have to take to protect these creatures and other marine animals, all the more for their habitats. Coasts & communities need each other to survive, a fact that may have slipped our minds well enough for us to abuse our seas & it’s resources. Together we must remember, for us to create healthier reefs for happier homes – as what CCEF has always passionately stood by in it’s commitment to “Sustainable Coasts & Involved Communities”.
Anna Helen Yap