Back to the Wild – Bamboo Shark Release Program of Manila Ocean Park
Posted by: | on May 25, 2012
Since my child is homeschooled we take every opportunity to expand his learning. It is very fortunate that Special Education Philippines was able to witness one of Manila Ocean Park’s conservation program dubbed as “Back to the Wild”. In this conservation program, Manila Ocean Park will release at least 20 juvenile bamboo sharks in Calatagan, Batangas. By early tomorrow, my son and I will have an opportunity to release one of these bamboo sharks back to the wild.
Background about the Bamboo Sharks that will be released:
The whitespotted bambooshark lives in the Indo-West Pacific. It has been confirmed in the waters of the following countries: Cambodia, China (mainland, Hong Kong, Macau), India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The whitespotted bamboo shark is a reef dwelling creature that lives near the bottom in shallow in-shore environments. It feeds during the night and rests in reef crevices during the day. Historically, bamboo sharks were known to occur in shallow coastal waters all throughout the Philippines, including Batangas. However, due to increasing fishing pressure to supply the pet trade as well as habitat degradation, sightings of these sharks have become a rare occurrence; in fact, most local SCUBA divers have yet to see a bamboo shark in the wild. As a result, many bamboo shark species have been classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN.
Why is Manila Ocean Park holding the shark release program?
To help alleviate the conservation situation of bamboo sharks, Manila Ocean Park is aiming to conduct a series of bamboo shark releases in various coastal seagrass & reef habitats. It is currently the only oceanarium in the world that has perfected captive breeding of white-spotted & grey bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum & C. griseum) while simultaneously performing conservation enhancement of these species. Before the release, sharks will be tagged for tracking purposes.
Bagong Silang, Calatagan
For this very first bamboo shark release, MOP has chosen the municipality of Calatagan in the province of Batangas, approximately 110 kilometers south of Manila. The beach areas of Calatagan consist of coralline sand, mangrove areas, fish and prawn ponds. The town specifically in Barangay Bagong Silang is a marine protected area. The Calatagan Artificial Reef and Fish Sanctuary (formerly Bagong Silang Fish Sanctuary) was created to ensure protection of marine resources, increase fish catch and community involvement on conservation of marine ecosystem. Proximity to a nearby seagrass site as well as having an established Marine Protected Area were important considerations in choosing the release location.
We arrived a day earlier to offer support in preparation for the Back to the Wild Program. We were able to see the bamboo sharks already and they just look magnificent. Special Education Philippines and the Manila Ocean Park team are just excited for tomorrow’s event where the actual release will happen. People from different groups and partners of Manila Ocean Park for this conservation program such as Conserve and Protect Oceans (CAP-Oceans), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI and local government unit of Calatagan, Batangas will wake up tomorrow for the first ever shark release program here in the Philippines - Back to the Wild: Bamboo Shark Release Program of Manila Ocean Park!
Note: Information about the bamboo shark and Calatagan was provided by Manila Ocean Park Official.