Butandings also hiding from heat?
(The Freeman) - May 1, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Animals are also suffering because of the El Niño phenomenon, and those in the sea are not spared, with the whale sharks, locally called Butanding, in Oslob, Cebu becoming fewer.

This has affected those who earn a living from tourists who pay to see them. 

It was observed last month that only a handful Butandings were spotted in Barangay Tanawan, Oslob.

Ed Llamedo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 spokesperson, reiterated in a telephone interview what he said in 2013 about Butanding sightings in the area.

He said these sea creatures would usually go to where food is, and in this case krill, a fine species of crustaceans carried by the sea current that whale and whale sharks follow to eat.

Aside from krill, there are other types of marine food that Butanding need that may have also caused them to leave.

He suspected that the quantity of krill, locally called oyap, or any other type of food is now scarce in the area and can no longer support the daily needs of these animals. (A fully grown whale shark could consume more than a ton of krill daily.)

According to Llamedo, krill can be found in any part of the ocean but the quantity varies.

"Mo-stay ni sila og usa ka lugar because of food.  Ato sigurong tan-awon ang availability sa amount sa ilang pagkaon (oyap). Transient ra gyud na sila," he said, citing what happened to Sorsogon, which also has the same eco-tourism industry focused on whale watching shark watching.

There are pre-designated plots in the sea in Tanawan marked with buoys where tourists could see, take pictures of, and even swim with the whale sharks, which has become an instant eco-tourism activity since 2013.

The Oslob tourism Officer Elizabeth Benologa, in an interview with BANAT News, sister publication of The FREEMAN said what uses to be 10 to 20 Butandings in a month, only five appeared last month.

For this reason, some scheduled whale shark watching were cancelled, resulting in boatmen losing income.

These boatmen were once fishermen who opted to work as eco-tourism guides after they struck gold in Butanding.

Benologa suspected that the extreme heat brought by El Niño have caused the Butandings to go somewhere else instead of going to Tanawan, where they usually converge.

Llamedo said they are looking for the possible connection between the extreme heat we are experiencing with the scarcity of the crustaceans in the area.

Proceso Bomediano, municipal agriculturist of Oslob, said in another telephone interview last night that they also received reports about the situation in Tanawan.

He said that aside from krill, the Butanding also eats planktons and two types of small fish with one of them, locally called 'kalampote', also abundant in Tanawan.

He said there is a scarcity of planktons in the area, which he likewise blames on the extreme heat.  (FREEMAN)

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