By Samuel Toledo
LEGAZPI CITY — The giant marine mammal whale sharks, locally known as “butanding“, are now being sighted at the Albay Gulf or off the shorelines here, as they start to attract domestic and foreign visitors at the eight-kilometer Legazpi City Boulevard, stretching from the coastlines of three barangays.
With this development, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal has ordered a stop to the passage of motorized sea vessels near the shorelines so that the whale sharks would not be disturbed.
“We already instructed our seaborne patrol to guard areas with sightings of Butanding to make sure that they are not disturbed by these sea crafts getting near the shorelines,” Rosal told Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday.
Rosal believes that the presence of whale sharks off the coastal waters here would attract more onlookers, particularly the tourists who opted to come to Albay due to the closure of Boracay.
He added that the whale shark sightings with the backdrop of Mayon Volcano is a scenery being waited for by the visitors strolling at the Legazpi Boulevard.
Legazpi City tourism officer Tita Pacres said that they would come up with guidelines on whale shark interactions should sightings of these giant mammals become more frequent.
“Maybe we would come up with the do’s and don’ts on whale shark interactions if their presence becomes more visible and start to get attention from the public,” Pacres said.
Rosal believes that these whale sharks come from Sorsogon and Masbate, and traveled as far as Albay Gulf due to its rehabilitated coral reefs.
“Our rehabilitation of the corals at the Albay Gulf is already paying off. We are attracting back marine species that need clean habitat,” Rosal said.
Whale sharks were already sighted at the Albay Gulf several years back.