2 – 4 May 2009
Finally, we have good Internet connection! We’re back in Manila, and can backtrack and report on the last three weeks of our Palawan adventure. We’ll start with rare dolphins . . .
We could not imagine going to Malampaya Sound for just a few days, thinking we would need a couple of weeks stay there to have close and meaningful interactions with Irrawaddy dolphins, Orcaella brevirostris—2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Status: Vulnerable. Population trend: decreasing.
But Taytay WWF Philippines project manager Mavic Matillano convinced us otherwise. She was going to start her photo identification project on the dolphins, and the last time she did this was in 2005, when she identified 44 individual dolphins. How could we say no to this?
We left our hotel in Taytay town on a tricycle at 6 am and were on the boat to the river entering the sound by 6:20. We saw our first Irrawaddy dolphins by 6:37! Although we saw lots of dorsal fins and tails, they were nonetheless Irrawaddy dolphins, known to be extremely elusive.
We had about four sightings of two groups from when we arrived until 9 am. It was awesome.
On our last day, we saw more dolphin action, with a pod even breaching!
In the early 1990s, Malampaya Sound was known as the “fish bowl” of the Philippines with its rich marine resources. Sadly, this is no longer true, what with increased population and human migration. Rich resources began to dwindle as people began to compete for fish catch, eventually employing different types of fishing gears, ranging from two to four kinds at a time, as per the study of Gonzales and Matillano, 2007.
The dolphins play an important role in the sound. They are bottom feeders, eating crustacean and fish. They are the sound’s gardeners, tilling the soil and stirring up nutrients that feed the fish life.