Title

Cetacean Biology, Conservation, and Management in the Southern Tañon Strait, Philippines

Event Name/Location

16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Diego, CA, December 12-16, 2005

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

12-2005

Abstract

The management of marine mammals, particularly cetaceans, in developing countries is often secondary to primary economic concerns. In the southern Tañon Strait, Visayas region, Philippines, we have combined a study of cetacean biology with the establishment of the foundations for a management plan featuring cetaceans. Our cetacean study includes a photographic identification catalogue of various species, which with the aid of GIS has allowed us to elucidate their distribution and abundance. In the span of two years we have documented the presence of spinner (Stenella longirostris), spotted (Stenella attenuata), Risso’s (Grampus griseus), common bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus), and Indo-Pacific bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) dolphins; melonheaded (Peponocephala electra), pilot (Globicephala macrorhynchus), dwarf and pygmy sperm (Kogia sp.) whales. Dolphin or whale watching in this area was initiated as an eco-tourism activity in Bais City in 1996. Recently, this activity has become popular and has emerged as a major economic activity for the entire region. However, with rising popularity comes increasing demand and consequently more operators and tour boats. Furthermore, guidelines for this particular activity, in their preliminary form, were previously adopted by only a few boat operators from Bais City. To address this and other related issues, we conducted a series of workshops for various stakeholders during which the participants drafted language for an ordinance on guidelines and regulations of dolphin watching which they hope will be adopted by the local governmental units in the area. Likewise, the tour operators adopted a series of guidelines and organized themselves into the “Tañon Strait Association of Cetacean Watchers”. Their mission is to provide and promote ecologically friendly dolphin watching services and to elevate the standards of this eco-tourism activity. We believe Tañon Strait is a ‘hotspot’ for cetacean conservation and we have now established the foundations for a cetacean management plan in the area.

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