Giant turtles, whales, whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays
The Philippine Department of Tourism is drawing up national guidelines for interaction with threatened marine wildlife like giant turtles, whales, whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays.
Local governments will implement the guidelines and tour operators offering these activities will have to be accredited. When completed this year, the guidelines will be added to the tourist board’s overall ecotourism guidelines, which will include site and product development as well as marketing and promotions.
The guidelines include “no touching, no feeding, maintaining proper distance, no flash photography, no blocking of path, no chasing”, according to marine wildlife expert AA Yaptinchay, who is also general manager of Kirschner Travel Manila and part of the guideline working committee.
Explaining the need for responsible and sustainable wildlife interaction, Yaptinchay elaborated: “The species subjected to tourism are mostly threatened animals and most are not even protected in the Philippines. They require special handing due to their conservation status, so we do not want tourism to be added to the list of threats already affecting them. Since interacting with them is a form of intrusion, it could affect their behaviour, daily activity, biology, etc.”