Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines

Bohol, Philippines

Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines

Bohol, Philippines

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Schleimer A.,Odyssea Marine Research and Awareness | Schleimer A.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Araujo G.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Penketh L.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | And 5 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2015

While shark-based tourism is a rapidly growing global industry, there is ongoing controversy about the effects of provisioning on the target species. This study investigated the effect of feeding on whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at a provisioning site in Oslob, Cebu, in terms of arrival time, avoidance and feeding behaviour using photoidentification and focal follows. Additionally, compliance to the code of conduct in place was monitored to assess tourism pressure on the whale sharks. Newly identified sharks gradually arrived earlier to the provisioning site after their initial sighting, indicating that the animals learn to associate the site with food rewards.Whale sharks with a long resighting history showed anticipatory behaviour and were recorded at the site on average 5 min after the arrival of feeder boats. Results from a generalised linear mixed model indicated that animals with a longer resighting history were less likely to show avoidance behaviour to touches or boat contact. Similarly, sequential data on feeding behaviour was modelled using a generalised estimating equations approach, which suggested that experienced whale sharks were more likely to display vertical feeding behaviour. It was proposed that the continuous source of food provides a strong incentive for the modification of behaviours, i.e., learning, through conditioning.Whale sharks are large opportunistic filter feeders in a mainly oligotrophic environment, where the ability to use novel food sources by modifying their behaviour could be of great advantage. Non-compliance to the code of conduct in terms of minimum distance to the shark (2 m) increased from 79% in 2012 to 97% in 2014, suggesting a high tourism pressure on the whale sharks in Oslob. The long-term effects of the observed behavioural modifications along with the high tourism pressure remain unknown. However, management plans are traditionally based on the precautionary principle, which aims to take preventive actions even if data on cause and effect are still inconclusive. Hence, an improved enforcement of the code of conduct coupled with a reduction in the conditioning of the whale sharks through provisioning were proposed to minimise the impacts on whale sharks in Oslob. © 2015 Schleimer et al.


Rambahiniarison J.M.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Araujo G.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Lamoste M.J.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Labaja J.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity | Year: 2016

We report the occurrence of the reef manta ray . Manta alfredi Krefft 1868 in the Bohol Sea, Philippines, based on photographic evidence from boat-based surveys and a fishery specimen. Despite previous anecdotal reports from the diving industry and over a century of extensive targeted fisheries for mobulid rays in the Philippines, it was not until recently that the species was first confirmed in the country at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan. Our results confirm the presence of . M. alfredi in the Visayas region of the Philippines, extending the current range for the species from the Sulu Sea over 600 km eastwards. Its presence in a region with an active mobulid fishery has important implications for the conservation and management of . M. alfredi in the country. We highlight the need to understand the distribution of . M. alfredi in the region and make management recommendations based on the present study. © 2016 National Science Museum of Korea (NSMK) and Korea National Arboretum (KNA).


Araujo G.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Montgomery J.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Pahang K.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Labaja J.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2016

Determining the life history and population parameters of sea turtles typically involves the live capture of animals. Photo-identification (photo-ID) of free-ranging individuals is a cost-effective alternative to conventional tagging for mark-recapture studies that also minimises the risk of injury or stress to the animals. Paired laser-photogrammetry (photogrammetry) is a minimally invasive technique to size animals and has been proven effective in a range of different taxa. Photo-ID and photogrammetry were combined as minimally invasive techniques to determine life-history parameters of free-ranging green sea turtles Chelonia mydas at a site in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. The pattern-recognition software I3S Pattern was used to validate results and confirm visual matching. A total of 38 individuals were identified at the site through photo-ID. Facial scutes remained unchanged for a min. of 3.6 years. Photogrammetry was employed to measure straight carapace lengths (SCLs) of a sample of 17 individuals, with a mean straight carapace length of 52.5 ± SD 1.1 cm. Modified maximum likelihood methods were used to model mean residency of 873 d at the site, with c. 12 individuals present at any one time. Based on photogrammetry measurements, individuals at the site were found to be of immature age class. This, along with the extended residency times, indicates that the site could be an important developmental habitat. Photo-ID is a valid minimally invasive technique for identifying individual C. mydas for mark-recapture analyses. The use of paired laser photogrammetry for categorising the life-history stage of an aggregation of sea turtles is demonstrated for the first time. Identification of such developmental habitats through the employment of these minimally invasive techniques is useful for conservation of the species. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Araujo G.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Lucey A.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | Labaja J.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | So C.L.,Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines | And 2 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2014

This study represents the first description of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, occurring at a provisioning site in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. Frequent observations of sharks are often difficult, even at tourism sites, giving rise to provisioning activities to attract them. The present study provides repeated longitudinal data at a site where daily provisioning activities took place, and whale sharks were present every day. A total of 158 individual whale sharks were photographically identified between Mar 2012 and Dec 2013, with 129 males (82%), 19 females (12%) and 10 (6%) of undetermined sex. Mean estimated total length was 5.5m(±1.3mS.D.). Twenty individuals were measured with laser photogrammetry to validate researchers' estimated sizes, yielding a good correlation (r2 = 0.83). Fifty-four (34%) individuals were observed being hand-fed by local fishermen (provisioned), through in-water behavioural observations. Maximum likelihood methods were used to model mean residency time of 44.9 days (±20.6 days S.E.) for provisioned R. typus contrasting with 22.4 days (±8.9 days S.E.) for non-provisioned individuals. Propeller scars were observed in 47% of the animals. A mean of 12.7 (±4.3 S.D.) R. typus were present in the survey area daily, with a maximum of 26 individuals (Aug 10 2013) and a minimum of 2 (Dec 6 2012). Twelve (8%) individuals were seen on at least 50% of survey days (n = 621), with a maximum residency of 572 days for one individual (P-396). Twenty four individuals were photographically identified across regional hotsposts, highlighting the species' migratory nature and distribution. Extended residency and differences in lagged identification rates suggest behavioural modification on provisioned individuals, underlying the necessity for proper management of this tourism activity. © 2014 Araujo et al.


PubMed | Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2015

While shark-based tourism is a rapidly growing global industry, there is ongoing controversy about the effects of provisioning on the target species. This study investigated the effect of feeding on whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) at a provisioning site in Oslob, Cebu, in terms of arrival time, avoidance and feeding behaviour using photo-identification and focal follows. Additionally, compliance to the code of conduct in place was monitored to assess tourism pressure on the whale sharks. Newly identified sharks gradually arrived earlier to the provisioning site after their initial sighting, indicating that the animals learn to associate the site with food rewards. Whale sharks with a long resighting history showed anticipatory behaviour and were recorded at the site on average 5 min after the arrival of feeder boats. Results from a generalised linear mixed model indicated that animals with a longer resighting history were less likely to show avoidance behaviour to touches or boat contact. Similarly, sequential data on feeding behaviour was modelled using a generalised estimating equations approach, which suggested that experienced whale sharks were more likely to display vertical feeding behaviour. It was proposed that the continuous source of food provides a strong incentive for the modification of behaviours, i.e., learning, through conditioning. Whale sharks are large opportunistic filter feeders in a mainly oligotrophic environment, where the ability to use novel food sources by modifying their behaviour could be of great advantage. Non-compliance to the code of conduct in terms of minimum distance to the shark (2 m) increased from 79% in 2012 to 97% in 2014, suggesting a high tourism pressure on the whale sharks in Oslob. The long-term effects of the observed behavioural modifications along with the high tourism pressure remain unknown. However, management plans are traditionally based on the precautionary principle, which aims to take preventive actions even if data on cause and effect are still inconclusive. Hence, an improved enforcement of the code of conduct coupled with a reduction in the conditioning of the whale sharks through provisioning were proposed to minimise the impacts on whale sharks in Oslob.


PubMed | Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2014

This study represents the first description of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, occurring at a provisioning site in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines. Frequent observations of sharks are often difficult, even at tourism sites, giving rise to provisioning activities to attract them. The present study provides repeated longitudinal data at a site where daily provisioning activities took place, and whale sharks were present every day. A total of 158 individual whale sharks were photographically identified between Mar 2012 and Dec 2013, with 129 males (82%), 19 females (12%) and 10 (6%) of undetermined sex. Mean estimated total length was 5.5 m (1.3 m S.D.). Twenty individuals were measured with laser photogrammetry to validate researchers estimated sizes, yielding a good correlation (r (2) = 0.83). Fifty-four (34%) individuals were observed being hand-fed by local fishermen (provisioned), through in-water behavioural observations. Maximum likelihood methods were used to model mean residency time of 44.9 days (20.6 days S.E.) for provisioned R. typus contrasting with 22.4 days (8.9 days S.E.) for non-provisioned individuals. Propeller scars were observed in 47% of the animals. A mean of 12.7 (4.3 S.D.) R. typus were present in the survey area daily, with a maximum of 26 individuals (Aug 10 2013) and a minimum of 2 (Dec 6 2012). Twelve (8%) individuals were seen on at least 50% of survey days (n = 621), with a maximum residency of 572 days for one individual (P-396). Twenty four individuals were photographically identified across regional hotsposts, highlighting the species migratory nature and distribution. Extended residency and differences in lagged identification rates suggest behavioural modification on provisioned individuals, underlying the necessity for proper management of this tourism activity.

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