Last November 8, 2013, a devastating catastrophe had hit the Philippines. Typhoon Yolanda, with an international name Haiyan, was one of the most intense tropical cyclones in the record of the world. It was the most destructive super typhoon in the world. Devastating the Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, it is the deadliest in the history, killing over six thousand people in the country alone.
Because of what happened, the country has been talked about all over the world. Sympathy and assistance flowed from different countries in the world.
A small island in Cebu called Malapascua which was also hit by Haiyan was left shattered. This once popular tourist destination became a great picture of catastrophe after the typhoon. But, when they thought that all is lost, there are still things that they’re thankful for; the thresher sharks residing in the Monad Shoal, a sunken island just off the coast of Malapascua. There are at least three species of thresher sharks; the big eyes, common thresher sharks, and pelagic thresher sharks. The latter is found at Malapascua which have dark shading over the base of the pectoral fins. They are also the smallest and long-tailed, which makes them easy to catch. They are on the list of threatened species of the IUCN. They produce two offspring a year and don’t reach sexual maturity until eight years old.
Alessandro Ponzo, executive director of the Large Marine Vertebrates Project said that the sharks are there for a purpose. They tend to swim the shores of Monad Shoal because they’re trying to get rid of the parasites that cling to their body. They take an opportunity of the small fishes near the shores to clean their body of parasites. It became their cleaning station. The shoal is also surrounded by sardines, which they can hunt and feed on. Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas also said that the shark tourism in the place does not include cages and baits, which is a very good opportunity for tourists to experience closeness with the sharks.
Two weeks after the damaging effects of the typhoon, the tourism in the place has been brought to normal, thanks to the friendly thresher sharks. Many organizations have been persistent to conserve and protect the sharks on the island such as Dennis Bait-it of Project Sharklink. Fishermen have also turned from capturing the fishes into protecting them, like Renato Reuyan. Though the tourism had been steady, there are still serious damages that these fishes face. 2.3 % of the shark fins sold in Hong Kong is from Thresher sharks according to a 2006 study published in Conservation Biology. This means millions of thresher shark fins a year. The sharks are headed towards extinction said Luke Warwick, director of Global Shark Conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Though many don’t have the heart to face sharks but, who knew that they could be a comfort to a healing island?