November 8, 2013 –exactly four years ago when Yolanda, internationally known as haian –the strongest and deadliest typhoon that planet earth has ever endured, hit the Philippines. It left many provinces in total devastation, resulting to more than 6,000 deaths. Malapascua was not exempted. The residents and rescuers from the main land (and Manila) described the island as though a huge giant stepped on it, leaving it flat and barren.
Some people who’s lived here long enough find it strange that they’ve gotten lost in the place they call home. There were no landmarks of any sort to mark their whereabouts whenever they walk around or towards somewhere. That’s how bad it was. A lot of people thought it’s the end for the island.
Surprise, surprise! As you know, I’m staying here for a month (and have stayed here for quite some time already), and the island is very much alive and well. Houses have been built back, boats were fixed, and dive shops have increased in number. All thanks to the thresher sharks.
Thresher sharks are deep sea sharks that only come up to 30 meters early in the morning to get cleaned by cleaner fish, or the cleaner wrasse. They would travel from who-knows-what-part-of-the-ocean and make sure to come back to Monad shoal just to get cleaned at sunrise. It’s the only place in the world where you get the highest chance of seeing them on a daily basis. That’s why divers from all over the world would make sure to tick this in their “diving list”.
The thresher sharks saved the island. Their consistent pattern of showing up daily has brought hundreds of thousands of divers here. This resulted to more profit, and therefore faster recovery and progress.
Sharks are better alive than caught. Most of them can only give birth twice in a year, and the baby sharks (da’da-dada-da) would only be ready to conceive after few years (for threshers, 8 years). At the pace we’re going, sharks won’t be able to catch up. They will be extinct in 30 years. No sharks in the ocean means no life in the ocean. No life in the ocean will eventually result to no life on earth.
But they still exist. And we should keep it that way. Again, thanks to them for bringing guests to the island. Looking back four years ago, Malapascua would have been another forgotten island in the Philippines without the thresher sharks.
Photo is taken in Malapascua, at Sharklink base. Project Sharklink is a group of divers, conservationists, and educators who strongly believe that the benefits of dive tourism must contribute towards the improved welfare of the local stakeholders, both man and animal alike.