BFAR-7 veterinarian, Dr. Jennefe Cabarubias, said feeding or petting the whale sharks will encourage the whale sharks to stay in the area, which is not their normal environment.
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Alegria town residents told: Don’t feed whale sharks
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-7 is calling on residents of Alegria town in southern Cebu not to feed the whale sharks sighted in its waters.

BFAR-7 veterinarian, Dr. Jennefe Cabarubias, said feeding or petting the whale sharks will encourage the whale sharks to stay in the area, which is not their normal environment.

“There should be no feeding introduction and no close interaction to humans. As much as possible, wild species should remain in the wild. There might be possible consequences because there will be changes in the normal cycle of their system,” Cabarubias said in a statement.

Cebu Provincial Fishery Officer Edgardo Delfin agrees.

He explained that feeding the sharks will change their natural feeding behavior and will make them dependent on humans.

Reports have reached BFAR-7 that whale sharks were seen swimming in the municipal waters of Alegria for days now. More whale sharks appeared after residents reportedly fed them.

Netizens are also alarmed by videos posted online that show some residents reportedly riding the whale sharks.

Cabarubias said whale sharks should not be domesticated even if they can be a potential income-generating tourism activity in the community.

She said even precautionary measures will not assure that the whale sharks will be protected and will be safe from any harm or threat.

Cabarubias also called on the town officials to take action and provide with the needed intervention to ensure the whale sharks will be protected while at the town’s waters.

Delfin said they have already relayed to the local government that people should maintain a safe distance of five to six meters away from the whale sharks so as not to stress the “gentle giants” out.

Alegria faces the Tañon Strait, which separates the islands of Cebu and Negros. It is a few towns awat from Oslob, which drew attention a few years ago because of the arrival of whale sharks at its waters.

Swimming with whale sharks has since attracted local and foreign tourists to Oslob but also drew criticism from environmental advocates. —  JMO (FREEMAN)

WHALE SHARKS
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