Sunday, May 23, 2010

Olango Sanctuary Threatened By Heatwave?

Alrightie folks, as said in the previous entry, we adults did not like nor enjoy much of the Talima Adventure and Water Park. So we found ourselves checking out the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. As you will probably have known, this sanctuary is well-known as a transit area for many migratory birds and at the same time home to many Philippine-resident birds that are rarely seen in our daily city lives.

Something caught my attention and it bothered me. Many lives are dying.

As we walked to the view-deck of the sanctuary for the usual great vantage watching egrets, terns, herons and other fantastic birds, I noticed that some finger-sized fish to even bigger lying dead on the concrete path. And there were local children playing in the area. I asked the guide why they allow kids to get and kill the still young fish in this sanctuary. His reply was it was not the kids, it was the sun killing all those fish and the children were just scooping them out from the water. OMG!

So I delayed the bird-watching experience to know more about the seeming fish-kill. On closer look, it was not only the fish. We saw and watched crabs, sea-snakes, cowries and other sea creatures either weak and dying or just died. Even the pesky tuyom (sea-urchin) is not spared! And all of them still young. I asked why. And I was told the ugly and alarming reason.

During low tide, or just when the water in the Olango mangroves is ebbing to low-tide, the sun's scorching rays heats up the remaining water to a level that is not only unbearable to these young sea lives but ultimately deadly. When they cannot drift to deeper waters or shaded areas (as they did not have to do so in the past), these creatures eventually die from too much heat. Well, we tried feeling how hot the water was. I can say, I won't have that kind of temperature for a hot bath!

The guide told us it happened only yesterday (22MAY2010) ever since they’ve been maintaining the sanctuary. And if you are not aware of it, yesterday too registered the hottest temperature ever recorded in Cebu’s history. How serious is this fishkill? He told us they collected 4 pail-fulls of dead young sea creatures yesterday. And no one liked nor wanted the 4 pails as the fish and other creatures were way too small.

So where is our wildlife going? OMG, yes OMG, it will eventually affect our lives on earth. No, this is not a wake-up call for me as I have had exposures to environmental protection concerns during my roams in this country. Nonetheless, its another cause for alarm, and reason for everyone to step up and get serious with matters regarding climate change.

Here is the simple but undeniable truth (as relayed to us by the sanctuary guide):

The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary is a vast area of shallows, mangroves and swamps. Many of the fish and other sea creatures breed there. The young creatures feed on plankton, algae and other little things in this area. The grown ups call this place home. Reason why the birds, migratory or not, enjoy being in this place to feed on them. But what about those young sea creatures dying? Then there’ll be none that would grow big. Then the birds will have nothing to eat. They perish. Like the birds, we’ll have nothing to fish from the sea. Everything follows. We’ll all perish. So that is alarming.

I asked what can be done and the guides told us that as of the moment, we could all just watch the young generation of sea-life perish as we can't stop the sun from shining. But when we get home, we should all do our share in getting serious about saving the planet – starting with addressing climate change. I asked what would be a good start. The guides said “help plant more trees including bakhaw whenever and wherever possible; do not burn Styrofoam, in fact, if you can avoid it, do not use Styrofoam; help educate people that climate change is a serious matter for us and future generations”...

I think I can do those three things. Can you?

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