DAGUPAN CITY—Four whale sharks frolicking in waters off the beaches of San Fabian town have been drawing hundreds of tourists there.
The whale sharks, which were sighted more than a week ago by local fishermen, were the same pod (social group of whales) that had visited the area last year, according to Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center.
In June last year, eight whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), were seen in the area.
“It’s usually at this time of the year when they come here because there are plenty of food near the shore,” said Rosario in a telephone interview.
The first sighting of a whale shark in the Lingayen Gulf was in June 2001 when three “butanding” (whale shark) were seen in waters off Lingayen and Binmaley beaches.
Rosario said that as the rains fall, nutrients coming from the rivers upstream are washed out to sea, attracting small fishes and shrimps, which the whale sharks consume.
“So the rains have something to do with their visit here because of the availability of food,” Rosario said.
The four whale sharks are in good condition, he said, although his team wants to find out why only three of the pod returned to Pangasinan waters.
“They were eight in the pod, and they moved from San Fabian to Labrador in the west, where our rivers exit,” Rosario said. The four whale sharks can be seen about a kilometer from the shore.
Fishermen have been renting out their boats to tourists. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon