Members of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS) dugong monitoring team have reported sightings of six sea cows, four of which were two pairs of mother-calf, off Sarangani Bay during their three-day watch in the bay.
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Maria Elvira V. Lumayag, provincial environment and natural resources officer (PENRO) of DENR Sarangani, said that the sea cows, commonly known as dugong, were spotted by the drone camera used by the team during their regular monitoring activity which started on Wednesday, August 31.
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Dr. Roy Mejorada, SBPS in-house veterinarian, said that on Thursday, September 1, a mother dugong and its calf were spotted swimming along the shallow waters of Barangay Gumasa, Glan. "When we zoomed in the footage, we were amazed to see that the calf was breastfeeding. This was the first time that we have documented this behavior in SBPS," he said.
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The team also sighted the same mother-calf dugong pair accompanied by another mother-calf pair on the Friday, September 2, resting in the nearby coral reefs. A lone male dugong was also spotted by the team swimming not too far away from the two mothers, including the solitary dugong in Barangay Taluya, Glan.
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SBPS Assistant Protected Area Superintendent Cirilo Lagnason, Jr. said "This might be the same herd of dugongs that we have documented last March 2022 in Glan.” Lagnason added that the sea cows frequent sightings in the SBPS mean that the bay is an important nursery habitat for the dugongs and their calves.
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PENRO Lumayag has urged the public to actively participate in the conservation efforts for SBPS and emphasized that it is everyone’s responsibility to work together and ensure that the seascape will remain as a safe haven for dugongs in the years to come. | With report and photos from PAMO-SBPS