The Whale Shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation.
Thousands of Ocean Defenders have already taken action to help.
here to add your voice to theirs.
"Instead of a fresh sea breeze there is a strange smell, a
mixture of chemicals, garbage and rotten fruits. When we met this
morning at the harbour with the local Greenpeace activists the
problem was obvious before we could even see it: rubbish, rubbish
and more rubbish, simply thrown into the water."
-- Heike, web editor on board the Esperanza
We found that plastics and various industrial chemicals and
domestic sewage are suffocating the bay's once productive waters,
and joined volunteers from the Manilan "Eco Waste Coalition" in a
clean up. We filled garbage bag after garbage bag, and hardly made
Much of the trash was from was plastic from 'single use' sources
(plastic bags, beverage bottles, cups and other items intended to
be used once and thrown away). Fortunately, we also got a lot of
media attention. Hopefully this will help with the bigger problem -
stopping the trash at its source.
Oil spill response
"I learned to fish when I was seven years old. On Friday 12
August I was on my way back from school along the beach when I
found it all black. I didn't know what it was and thought it was
just some mud the sea had brought in and that would go away
quickly. But than I heard in the radio it was oil."
-- Francisco, 12-year-old student
On Friday, August 11, a Petron-chartered single hull vessel
carrying 2.1 million litres of oil sank in Guimaras Strait -
causing the Philippines worst oil spill.
The Esperanza helped the Philippines Coast Guard survey the
hardest hit area, aided local efforts to contain the spill,
transported clean up equipment and delivered relief supplies
donated for the tens of thousands of affected locals.
"I saw whole swathes of mangroves with their root systems
covered in the black tar. A clean up of such a tangled mass of
roots would be impossible; the oils will remain trapped within the
roots for years. It made me so sad as I know mangroves are very
sensitive to oil pollution. These mangroves will probably die over
the next weeks."
-- Dr. Janet Cotter, scientist on board the Esperanza
"We are very angry with the oil company. We took so much care of
our mangroves. They were really our pride - and now the company has
destroyed it. I think they have to pay a compensation. Not only to
the fishermen but also for the damage on the ecosystem."
-- Connie Gamuya, counsellor of La Paz, island of Guimaras
Help the people of Guimaras.
"The proximity of the mine to the sea means that the marine
organisms such as corals are likely to be impacted causing harm to
the fragile coral reef ecosystem. Such impacts on the reef would be
a disaster for marine biodiversity, including the whale shark, and
also local fisheries."
-- Dr. Janet Cotter, scientist onboard the Esperanza.
At Rapu Rapu Island the Esperanza joined a local flotilla of
some 70 traditional outrigger boats in protest against the gold and
silver mining operation. The mine was reopened in July despite
government investigations, which revealed ongoing leakages of
highly toxic chemicals into the pristine waters of the Albay
A Greenpeace science team took water samples tracing water
contamination back to the mine, and our activists entered the
complex and hung a banner calling for the mine to be shut down.
"These local people are justifiably outraged. The rich marine
ecosystem they rely on for food and livelihood is being destroyed
for the profit of far off multinational companies."
-- Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Philippines
ABN Amro and ANZ, two banks financing this mine, to pull their
Apo marine reserve
"Apo Island has always been the model of hope for coastal
communities in the Philippines. It demonstrates how reserves can
effectively restore the productivity and biodiversity that once
characterized the seas."
-- Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
On Apo, local fishermen used to use dynamite, and other
destructive fishing practices. Then a team from Siliman University
convinced them to try setting up a marine reserve instead.
Now the dynamite is history. The marine reserve, carefully
guarded by the local community, supports hundreds of species of
corals - and marine catches have doubled.
"If it was not an official reserve some fisherman would go back
to the old destructive methods, I think. We do a lot to educate the
people, especially the children. But it has to be official to make
sure everybody protects the sea."
--- Jerry Mendez, 39-year-old fisherman and Sea Ranger
establish a global network of marine reserves.
More information on the Greenpeace Philippines site.
Read updates on the Esperanza crew weblog.