Spinner dolphins are “small dolphins known for their acrobatic spins when they leap or jump out of the water,” and are frequently seen near the waters of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel, and General Santos City. Some 150-200 individuals were sighted in a pod during the monitoring.
Risso’s dolphins on the other hand, “are medium-sized, grey-colored dolphins that could grow to about four meters, and have big dorsal fins and linear scars,” most frequently sighted near the coast of Malapatan and Glan.
While the dugong or the sea cow, which was spotted in barangay Cablalan in Glan, “is an herbivore marine mammal that consumes seagrasses.” Barangay Cablalan offers a wide expanse of seagrass for the dugong to feed on.
“There are monitoring months when we can see offsprings or baby dolphins and whales, which is an indicator that these animals are breeding and increasing in number, and they find our bay as a safe haven to feed and nurture their young,” Mejorada said.
“These would also mean that the bay holds a very good source of their food, which comprises of fish, squid, octopus, jellyfish, and shrimps, and of course, this would mean that the water quality in the bay is good,” he added.
The monitoring team is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-XII), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-XII), Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS) team, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO-Gensan), and Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC-Sarangani).
The monitoring activity is done every month and is funded by Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon’s office “for the food and other expenses” of the monitoring team.
According to Gary John Cabinta, Ecosystems Management Specialist I of DENR-XII Sarangani, the activity was done in order to “know the frequency of the species of marine mammals, their usual sighting and location, estimate their population and density, and observe their behavior and activities within the bay.”
Cabinta, who is also the team leader and documenter of the monitoring team, said that “another purpose of the activity is for future research studies and tourism of Sarangani Bay.”
Mejorada said the provincial government of Sarangani under the Sulong Kalikasan flagship program of Governor Solon has been “supportive and active in the conservation of the environment, especially the bay, and have done numerous projects in order to preserve and nurture our marine resources.”
“Originally, the marine mammal monitoring is done quarterly, but Governor Steve added funds to make the monitoring on a monthly basis. This is very important to have a more detailed and comprehensive data,” said Mejorada.
According to Mejorada, the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape covers an area of 215,950 hectares following the shoreline from the municipal boundary of Maitum, going inside the bay until the municipal boundary of Glan.
The Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape covers the six coastal municipalities of Sarangani, including General Santos City.
It was on March 5, 1996 when Sarangani Bay was declared a protected seascape by President Fidel V. Ramos under Proclamation No. 756. (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)