by Ric V Obedencio
THERE’s more than meets the eye in the usual tourism sights
and scenic sites in Bohol.
Aside from the usual underwater
marine forest of beauty through diving deep down the sea floor off some of the popular dive sites in Bohol, there are other beauty of nature to ponder on. One of these is the existence black forest now discovered in Jagna town and another is the uncommon presence of the gentle ocean giant whale sharks that only a few tourists experienced sight-see or cavorting a few hundred meters off Pamilacan island
Unknown to many, Jagna town boasts of its rare black coral life-forms that grow a few hundred meters off coastal Barangay Cantagay, said Alessadro Ponzo, a marine biologist
of Physallus group.
He said that barangay and municipal officials are contemplating to protect these marine assets. One of the steps is to enlarge the size of “no-take zone” in the marine protected area (MPA) in this barangay. And later on, this could be transformed into regulated tourist attraction in scuba dive or plain snorkeling with a fee, not only to generate taxes
but for conservation and protection efforts, he said.
Asked if these black corals are still in good or excellent condition, he said they could be. He added however that inventory of these is needed to find out how they are.
Ponzo said that these black corals must be protected at all times from poaching and illegal harvesting because they are rich source of jewelry-making industry worldwide
. Some of these raw materials are used as medicine.
Smuggling of these black corals worth millions of dollars has emerged and luckily apprehended recently.
Barangay chairman Tanie Gaas of Pamilacan, an island barangay off Baclayon town, confirmed in an interview of the presence of whale sharks, a gentle mammoth mammal. He said that these marine mammals always frequent here a few hundred meters of the island’s fish sanctuary apparently for foraging.
Ponzo, who has been scouring Bohol seas
for marine research and conservation for quite sometime, confirmed this, saying that this mammals should also be protected to the fullest.
Captain Gaas said he also learned that these sea
mammals are reportedly being fed by tourists while swimming and frolicking with them.
Ponzo said if he has his way he should discourage the man-made feeding of these creatures as what is happening now in Oslob, Cebu province, where thousands of tourists flock almost everyday to see and experience the whale sharks