Thirty-five stakeholders of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape attended a training on proper response to marine mammal stranding on March 10-11, 2020. The participants came from the Sarangani Bay protected area management office, regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, local government units, academic institutions, private sector partners, and communities.
Organized by the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Conservation and Protection Center, and the USAID’s Protect Wildlife project, the activity provided knowledge and skills in the basic biology of marine mammals and proper handling and response during stranding incidents. The participants learned about the gaps in functionality of existing wildlife rescue network, identified possible solutions, and drafted a short-term action plan to revitalize the network.
Sarangani Bay teems with marine mammals, with around 10 species recorded, some of which are spinner dolphins, Fraser’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, and Risso’s dolphins. These account for one-third of known marine mammal species in the Philippines. They are threatened by marine debris, illegal fishing activities, fisheries by-catch, and sea vessel traffic. Since 2004, the Sarangani Wildlife Protection and Rescue Team Network has been responding to wildlife rescues and marine mammal strandings in Sarangani Bay. However, previously trained members of rescue team have either become inactive or have moved, hence the need for a new batch of trainees. The new Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape Management Plan specifies that this training needs to be conducted annually from 2020 to 2025, in line with its objective of empowering communities to actively protect their natural resources. (PWP/ Meg Yandoc)