Bicol’s whale sharks underscore urgent need to defend seas from pollution

Feature story - August 27, 2006
The recently-discovered presence of feeding whale sharks in the Albay Gulf, particularly along Legaspi City’s coastline, only confirms the urgent need to defend the rich coastal waters of the Bicol region from threats like mining pollution, Greenpeace said today during a welcome ceremony organized by the municipality of Donsol, Sorsogon, to celebrate the arrival of the Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza. Crew from the Esperanza which arrived in Legaspi Pier a day before, was able to document several whale sharks swimming in the waters of Bigaa, Legaspi City.

The Whales shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation. Greenpeace is in the Philippines to campaign for the closure of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette to prevent further pollution of the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in The Philippines as part of a 15th month global expedition - the most ambitious the organisation has ever undertaken - to highlight the threats to and the beauty of the oceans.

The Whales shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation. Greenpeace is in the Philippines to campaign for the closure of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette to prevent further pollution of the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in The Philippines as part of a 15th month global expedition - the most ambitious the organisation has ever undertaken - to highlight the threats to and the beauty of the oceans.

The Whales shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation. Greenpeace is in the Philippines to campaign for the closure of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette to prevent further pollution of the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in The Philippines as part of a 15th month global expedition - the most ambitious the organisation has ever undertaken - to highlight the threats to and the beauty of the oceans.

The Whales shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation. Greenpeace is in the Philippines to campaign for the closure of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette to prevent further pollution of the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in The Philippines as part of a 15th month global expedition - the most ambitious the organisation has ever undertaken - to highlight the threats to and the beauty of the oceans.

The Whales shark's migration route takes them close to the shores off Rapu-Rapu Island, site of toxic sea pollution from the Lafayette mining operation. Greenpeace is in the Philippines to campaign for the closure of the gold and silver mining operations of Lafayette to prevent further pollution of the area. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in The Philippines as part of a 15th month global expedition - the most ambitious the organisation has ever undertaken - to highlight the threats to and the beauty of the oceans.

The recent discovery of the presence of feeding whale sharks in the Albay Gulf, particularly along Legaspi City’s coastline, only confirms the urgent need to defend the rich coastal waters of the Bicol region from threats like mining pollution.

The recent discovery of the presence of feeding whale sharks in the Albay Gulf, particularly along Legaspi City’s coastline, only confirms the urgent need to defend the rich coastal waters of the Bicol region from threats like mining pollution.

Mirikpitik Creek, the creek that leads out from Lafayette's mine and into the seas around Rapu Rapu in the Albay Gulf, had already been contaminated with very high toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, and zinc. It was revealed by Greenpeace two days ago and this new evidence of toxic contamination is based on the results of water samples taken from the creek during the second day of Lafayette 's 30-day test run. Thus, making us think twice if it is possible for the company to operate without environmental lapses.

The Esperanza visited the Lafayette mine site, stayed in Donsol following four days of joining local communities from Albay and Sorsogon in their campaign against the mine. As long as the mine company exists, these waters will continue to be endangered and grave consequences will undoubtedly be impacted not only on the region's fragile marine environment, but also on the coastal communities who rely on the seas for livelihood and subsistence.

             

Donsol, famous for the pods of whale sharks, was one of the first towns to voice opposition against Lafayette. The town is concerned that the contamination from the mine's operations might affect the enormous fins living in these waters. On August 26, the crew onboard the Esperanza spotted a whale shark in Legazpi bay. The huge whale shark was about six meters, grey with white spots, moving slowly through the water. With this, not only Donsol Mayor Salve Ocaya wants the mine corporation be halted. Legazpi Mayor Noel Rusel talked about the options for tourism the whale sharks bring to Legazpi. And he added: "This is why we have to get this mine out."

Read more about this recent discovery

Read the weblog entry

Watch the whaleshark encounter on Ocean Defenders TV

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