A Rare, Big Blue Whale!

blue-whale
The largest known animal on planet Earth, a blue whale was spotted in the Bohol Sea this week. The rare sighting was documented with a photo by Panglao Councilor Joseph Jasper Arcay.

While it is not established to be the same creature, a blue whale was also spotted on the waters off Dumaguete City and other parts of Negros Oriental on Tuesday afternoon, May 17, as reported by Judy Flores-Partlow of the Philippine News Agency.

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are baleen whales, which means they have fringed plates of fingernail-like material, called baleen, attached to their upper jaws and according to the National Geographic, these “magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet long and upwards of 200 tons. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant; their hearts, as much as an automobile.”

It may be recalled that in 2011, GMA 7’s nature and wildlife program Born to be Wild was able to document a blue whale sighting in the Bohol Sea said to be “the first known documentation of the world’s largest creature on Philippine television.”   In 2012, the team once again sighted a blue whale in Bohol.

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The Bohol Sea tops the list among “10 Great Dolphin and Whale Watching Destinations” as published in 2013 by www.philippinebeaches.org with writer Yoshke Dimen providing the explanation: “There’s a reason the Large Marine Vertebrates (LAMAVE) Project Philippines chose Bohol Sea as their center of research. It is brimming with life. Pamilacan Island and Balicasag Island lie in the middle of it, cradling a wide array of marine lifeforms including dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, and even blue whales if you’re really, really lucky!”  Blue whale sightings are very rare and between 2004 and 2012, there were only seven documented sightings of the blue whale in the Philippines, all happening in the Bohol Sea between February and June.

Researchers noted that sightings of the blue whale are a good sign of large baleen whales coming back particularly to the waters off  Pamilacan Island, which used to be the lair of former hunters of dolphin, Bryde’s whales,  whale sharks and manta rays in the area. The have already abandoned their centuries- old hunting tradition to become marine conservationists now working as spotters and local guides of the Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching tours. (Sonieta Deguit Labasan, lifestylebohol, the Bohol Chronicle)



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