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Five Irrawaddy dolphins “were accidentally killed in fishing operations” last year in Malampaya, northern Palawan, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) revealed over the weekend.
“Only 42 of the critically endangered dolphins are left,” said Obel Resurrecion, education officer of WWF Philippines, which stepped up its species protection efforts anew.
To raise funds for its conservation programs, the WWF camped out on a small patch of green in Makati City known as the Glorietta Dolphin Park.
“WWF Philippines is working with community groups to inculcate responsible ecotourism among residents and businesses in northern Palawan, where fish pens and the continued use of explosives in fishing have nearly wiped out the Orcaella brevirostris from the shallow waters of the Malampaya Sound,” WWF communications officer Gregg Yan said.
There are only about 6,000 Irrawaddy left worldwide, according to the WWF Philippines website.
When the Irrawaddy dolphins of Malampaya were first surveyed in 2001, there were still 77 of them, but their numbers have dwindled at an average of about four per year. Many get tangled and drown in nets laid out to catch crabs and fish.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources gave the Irrawaddy in Malampaya the critically endangered classification– the highest risk category for any animal species.
An Irrawaddy dolphin has a bulging forehead, a short beak, and 12-19 teeth on each side of each jaw.
Its pectoral fin is broadly triangular. It also has a small dorsal fin on the posterior end of its back.
It breathes at intervals of 70-150 seconds. When the Irrawaddy doplhin comes to the water surface, the head appears first and then disappears, and then the back emerges, but the tail is hardly ever seen.
Some 500 volunteers came to wield brushes and cups of paint last Saturday at the dolphin park in Makati. They set out to prove that their mural of dolphins can make others, who also care enough about Nature to help save dolphins and other wildlife.
For every one-time donation of P3,000 to the WWF Philippines Adoption Program, the contributor gets a stuffed toy—either a dolphin or a panda—an adoption certificate and a species information card.
Each participant in the mural painting marathon also chipped in P300 before they set out to colorize the dolphin outline assigned to their respective bib number.
WWF's own “Hero of the Environment” A.G. Sano drew the dolphin outlines and gave the finishing touches on the mural, which will later go on exhibit in the Glorietta Mall for at least a week. Passers-by who are moved by the environment-themed public art can also sign up to get involved in the Adoption Program. — RSJ, GMA News