Dolphin Conservation Efforts Focused on Children, Youth

As in the past, marine mammal protection and conservation advocates here scour the oceans of creativity to net more and more Boholanos, especially the young, into the rhythm of protecting whales and dolphins from harm.

From physically bringing children to the dolphin and whale watching areas, to opening up dolphin themed interactive games to arts installations, murals and film showing activities, the dolphin awareness and education campaign gets to Boholano children and youth via a paper and pencil dolphin quiz bowl for a Dolphin Festival.

In the first Dolphin Festival, organizers set the gathering at Baluarte in Poblacion Baclayon, this effectively puts the students closest to the areas where the dolphins and the whales are usually spotted.

At the second Dolphin Festival, students had a field day at the CPG Sports Complex, engaging others in group games, information dissemination activities, film showing and mural painting to impress on the youth dolphin conservation consciousness.

This year, the highlight of the festival is a Bohol wide inter-school dolphins and Bohol marine environment themed quiz bowl which promises handsome prizes for winners.

"We are getting children into the campaign, realizing that this sector can grow into the consciousness of environment awareness and they can better influence parents," asserts Adelfa Salutan, coastal resource management specialist in Bohol.

The efforts came as an annual challenge, because sometime in the past, Bohol fishermen hunted whales and dolphins as exotic food, says a member of Bohol's Rescue Unit for Marine Mammals and Wildlife (BRUMW).

The global ban on whale and dolphin hunting coupled with the health risks of eating the top predator meat has pushed Bohol advocates to spread the word and conceptualize alternative livelihood options for whale hunters.

Now, dolphins have become among Bohol's top tourism jewels, racking up increased income for communities that are into dolphin and whale watching as their community based eco-tourism ventures, says Capitol-based Tourism Office worker Cristopher Bongcales.

Of the 28 species of dolphins and whales seen in Philippine waters, scientists have seen 18 of these species in Bohol waters, asserts Salutan who works at the local Bohol Environment Management Office.

"Bohol seas offer more diverse whales and dolphins compared to Bais City," according to Siliman University marine biologists.

There is a real need for people to understand dolphin protection and conservation issues. "We need to widen the information and education of people especially those in the coastal areas of Bohol," said Kristina Pahang, communications specialist working for one dolphin protection organization based in Jagna town.

On the 3rd Dolphin festival led by BRUMW and the multi-agency Bohol Coastal Resource Management Task Force, members admit that possibilities are endless when coming up with creative ways to widen the awareness campaign. (mbcn/Rey Anthony H. Chiu/PIA7-Bohol)

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