Rough-toothed dolphins sighted for the first time in Sarangani Bay

ALABEL, Sarangani (MindaNews / 19 October) – Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) have been recorded for the first time at the protected 215,950-hectare Sarangani Bay.

Rough-toothed dolphins were recorded for the first time at the protected Sarangani Bay. Photo courtesy of DENR-12

Joy Ologuin, head of the Protected Area Management Office of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (PAMO-SBPS), confirmed that a pod of at least 10 rough-toothed dolphins were sighted during their recent marine mammal monitoring at the protected seascape.

“The rough-toothed dolphins [were seen] feeding on squids at the coastal waters of Glan, Sarangani province,” she said in a statement.

The monitoring team includes personnel from the PAMO-SBPS, Sarangani Environmental Conservation and Protection Center, local government unit of General Santos City, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 12 (DENR-12).

The rough-toothed dolphins, classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with a “least concern” status, thrive on squids, fish and mollusks.

Rough-toothed dolphins are found throughout the world in tropical and warmer temperate waters, according to the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These small members of the dolphin family usually travel in small, tight-knit groups of two to 20 individuals. Their common name was based on the ridges found on their teeth, which are unique to this species. Rough-toothed dolphins are relatively small compared to other dolphins. They can reach up to 8.5 feet in length and weigh about 350 pounds (about 160 kilograms), the agency said.

Ologuin said that the monitoring team in the past few years recorded hundreds of whales and other species of dolphins thriving across Sarangani Bay.

“The sightings of the marine mammals indicate that the ecosystem of the bay is still healthy. These fishes keep on coming back. It’s also probable that some of them are already residents of the bay,” she told MindaNews earlier.

She stressed, however, that the garbage problem, including single-use plastics, is a growing threat to marine life across the bay.

“The floating plastic garbage poses a threat to fishes present in Sarangani Bay, as they could mistake these wastes as food,” she said, urging the public to responsibly dispose off their trash so they would not end up in the ocean.

Sarangani Bay was proclaimed a protected seascape 25 years ago through a 1996 Presidential Proclamation issued by then-President Fidel Ramos, to conserve its marine resources for the benefit of future generations. The bay straddles the towns of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel, Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum in Sarangani province and the chartered city of General Santos.

Records from the PAMO-SBPS show that the bay hosts a rich biodiversity of fish, sea turtles, corals, seagrasses and mangroves. It is home to threatened species such as dugong, mameng (Napoleon wrasse) and four kinds of marine turtles (hawksbill, olive ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtle). Across the bay are at least 411 reef species. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)