Food & Travel

A Letter to Manila Ocean Park


#MUNIonThis: Do you realize that by participating in these activities at Manila Ocean Park, we put sharks, rays and humans in danger?

Just yesterday, October 2, 2013, marine conservation & wildlife protection groups Save Philippine Seas, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Earth Island Institute, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, and Greenpeace Philippines sent a joint letter to Manila Ocean Park, detailing concerns regarding their new sharks & rays encounter program.

Details on the unmindful program can be found on blogger Clariss’ website, proving that while the program was created to “educate”, it grossly misinforms by indicating the wrong shark species and encouraging irresponsible behavior around sharks and rays.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter to Manila Ocean Park:

“Clariss also posted a photo of her stepping on a nurse shark. Sharks will be put under a lot of stress if Manila Ocean Park continues to allow visitors to step on these animals everyday, from 9AM-5PM. Moreover, the blogger also wrote that she and the rest of the bloggers were taught how to hold stingrays. While only about 30 out of the 275 species of sharks have been reported to ever attack a human, it is worth noting that sharks are predators and could be capable of inflicting wounds and injuries if provoked. Sharks must be treated with respect and care at all times. Stingrays must also be left untouched, for they use their tail spines for defense. Rays have an exceptional array of senses that allow them to perceive potential threats, even if those threats are at a considerable distance. If this is Manila Ocean Park’s version of “education,” then it is currently a form of miseducation, and a risky one at that.”

Read the full letter on the Save Philippine Seas blog here.

Bottom line is these creatures do not belong in captivity, and they deserve to be pulled out immediately if these are the conditions we put them in, and if it encourages irresponsible human behavior with wildlife, which it does, obviously.

I believe it should be said though, that we shouldn’t be quick to judge visitors like Clariss who hopefully unwittingly took part in the program. For all we know, she just didn’t know any better. I hope this then serves as a wake-up call to her and to everyone else who has engaged or was intending to engage in similar activities, and of course, to Manila Ocean Park, and any other groups or institutions that exploit captive wildlife.

Let’s take proactive measures to raise awareness on this issue so that no one else will take part in or tolerate such programs, because whenever we do tolerate it, we encourage the capture of these animals from their homes. Spread the word for sharks and rays!