Amigo sa mga Iho
- A Friend to the Sharks
On Malapascua, thresher sharks share a special bond with the community. Meet the threshers face-to-face and join volunteers working with a locally-based organisation to understand and protect these unique sharks.
“Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you're lucky enough to see lots of them, that means that you're in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don't see sharks.”
- Sylvia Earle
Sunrise is a special time at Monad Shoal in the Philippines, as the first light heralds the arrival of the thresher sharks to the sea mount and its bustling ecology of cleaner fish. These iconic open water sharks, characterised by the long scythe-like tails they use to stun prey while hunting, come to have harmful parasites removed from their skin by the waiting cleaners. The daily cleaning plays an essential role in maintaining the health of the population of sharks that frequent the shoal. This interaction also makes Monad Shoal the only known place in the world where these migratory sharks can be seen on a daily basis.
However, it’s not just the sharks which make this place so unique. On the nearby island of Malapascua, the people have a long-standing relationship with threshers. Until relatively recently, the sharks were targeted by fishermen for their fins and meat, causing hundreds of threshers from Monad Shoal to be killed and sold each year. Yet, everything changed with the realisation that the sharks could support a booming ecotourism dive industry. Now, the threshers have helped revitalise Malapascua’s economy and the community works diligently to protect their local population of sharks.
Amigo sa mga Iho - A Friend to the Sharks takes you in the water and on the frontlines with the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project as they work to gather data for the protection of the threshers. Our Cyan Planet family member and marine biologist, Thomas Sanborn, was able to join the project and document the experience of working up close with these majestic animals to assist with their valuable research. Experience the connection with these special sharks and get an insight into the ongoing work of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project.
The Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project is a community-based organisation working in Malapascua to help a new relationship between sharks and people grow. Their work provides insight into these rarely studied species, and the information they provide to the community helps guide the island’s conservation efforts. With the help of volunteers, the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project is able to gather critical information on the population, behaviour, and movement of Monad Shoal’s thresher sharks, information made even more important by their recent listing as “endangered” on a global level.