‘Butanding’s visit in Legazpi shortened by dirty water

Butanding or Whale Shark. Image is via wikimedia.org.

LEGAZPI CITY—They could have stayed longer at this city’s waters, but noises and contaminated water could have driven away the nine gentle giant whale sharks locally known as butanding to find a better haven.

Tourism officials believed the whale sharks came from Donsol in Sorsogon and wandered to the city’s open waters.

Donsol water is the known sanctuary of whale sharks in Bicol for the past years, although they would sometimes disappear for months only to return after a time.

The nine whale sharks showed up near the shoreline of Legazpi waters on February 10, and already attracted foreign and local tourists. It was the third showing since 2010.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had named three of the gentle giants in a Bicol dialect as “Magaro” (sociable), “Durat” (flirt) and “Mailyas” (unfriendly).

A radio report, however, said some of the butanding already left the city’s waters, which is part of the Albay gulf. The remaining may also follow, quoting former city councilor Carlos Ante of the Bantay Dagat.

Ante said a BFAR report showed that the coastal Legazpi water stretching from barangays Pigcale and Lamba to the four kilometers of the highly developed boulevard at Barangay Puro was highly contaminated due to garbage and human waste.

Puro Boulevard starts from the biggest Bicol waterfront commercial complex Embarcadero De Legazpi Mall, one of the Legazpi’s major tourist attractions.

Early this week, the butanding visitors reportedly dwindled to three.

A source said the butanding would certainly leave the place because of the excessive close interaction from residents to the extent of riding them.

Some residents, however, assailed the Office of Civil Defense for its regular drilling exercise using the Puro coastal area as venue, saying the butanding are disturbed by noises from the helicopter.

Mayor Noel Rosal said he had warned OCD Regional Head Raffy Alejandro to change their venue, believing the disaster-preparedness exercise and helicopter noise could irritate the visiting butanding.

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