Left photo:Photo op with the cetacean research team of TSPS PAMO with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Regional Office- R7, and CRERDEC staff. Right photo: S. longirostris is considered the flagship species of TSPS and the most common species of dolphin observed during a dolphin watching. This species shows its tri-color pattern and long rostrum as its prominent feature. S. longirostris breached out of the water in the waters between Pinamungajan-Vallehermoso. Photo by: Portia Antig

The Coastal Resources and Ecotourism Research, Development, and Extension Center (CRERDEC) provided technical assistance during the Annual Cetacean Survey for Dry Season last May 8-12, 2023.

Two CRERDEC staff joined the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape – Protected Area Management Office (TSPS-PAMO) in monitoring and documenting existing cetacean species in the strait, which is known for its extraordinary abundance and diverse assemblage of dolphins and whales and its importance as feeding, breeding, and resting grounds for these marine mammals.

Tañon Strait, a narrow water passage bounded by the islands of Cebu in the East and Negros in the West, was declared a protected seascape under Presidential Proclamation 1234 last May 27, 1998, by late President Fidel V. Ramos and was integrated into Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 amending the previous NIPAS Act of 1992 or R.A. No. 7586 last June 22, 2018.

Left photo: Bottlenose dolphin joining a pod of spinner dolphin showing its falcate dorsal fin as one of its defining features. Bottlenose dolphin encircled in the photo found in the waters between La Libertad and Alcantara. Right photo: S. attenuata during bow riding in the waters between Alegria-Manjuyod showing its prominent spots as markings of this species. Photo by: Portia Antig

The long-Snouted Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) was commonly observed during the survey, performing its distinctive acrobatic displays.

Other species spotted were Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops spp.), Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus), and Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata).

However, migratory cetacean species such as Dwarf Sperm Whale (Kogia sima), False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens), and Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa attenuata) observed in previous surveys (2019, 2021-2022) were not spotted during this particular survey, possibly due to seasonal factors.

Cetaceans are marine mammals that include whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

They play many important ecological roles in the marine environment, one of which is they serve as ecosystem engineers that modify habitats in a way that increases species richness and habitat productivity, maintaining the health and stability of the environment.

Unfortunately, they face serious threats such as global warming that results in climate change, marine traffic, marine pollution, and commercial fishing activities.

Conservation efforts thru co-management between the TSPS-PAMO, LGUs, and other stakeholders are crucial to preserving and maintaining this unique species. P. Antig & C. Baron, CRERDEC