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Guimaras wouldn’t be seeing whale sharks for a while

September 12, 2006

By RYAN B. LACHICA
Panay News

whale-shark-resized.jpgBACOLOD City – Guimaras would not be seeing whale sharks or “butanting” within its territorial waters for years, according to a marine life expert.

Ruel Almonida, Aquaculturist II of the Negros Occidental Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said Guimaras Strait where MT Solar 1 sank is a grazing area of whale sharks. But because of the oil spill, the sea creatures are sure to stay away from it for a while.

Almonida said that in previous years, they have apprehended several individuals hunting whale sharks in the area.

Whale sharks endangered species. Its capture is prohibited.

Almonida said fishes and sea mammals like dolphins and whales swim away when they sense something different in their environment.

The whale sharks would probably just stay in the Sulu Sea, he added.

The whale shark is a gentle and slow filter feeding shark which is the largest living shark (and fish) species. It lives in tropical and warm oceans. The species is believed to have originated about 60 million years ago.

The species was first identified in April 1828, following the harpooning of a 4.6 meter (15 feet) specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. It was described by Andrew Smith, a military doctor associated with British troops stationed in Cape Town, the year following the capture. He proceeded to publish a more detailed description of the species in 1849.

The name “whale shark” comes from the fish’s large size; that is, a shark as large as a whale.

The whale shark inhabits the world’s tropical and warm-temperate oceans. While thought to be primarily pelagic, seasonal feeding aggregations of the sharks occur at several coastal sites like Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia as well as Pemba, Útila, Honduras, Donsol, Philippines, and Zanzibar on the coast of East Africa.

The whale shark is solitary and rarely seen in groups unless feeding at locations with abundance of food.

When it is explained that most sharks are not dangerous to humans, this species is used as the leading example. Divers and snorkelers can swim around the giant fish without any problems, apart from the risk of being hit by the shark’s large and muscular tail fin.

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