The northeastern Bohol Sea is geographically characterized by the presence of an inshore deep trench, where the Mindanao Current generates an area of high productivity creating a major biodiversity hot spot within the Coral Triangle. Eighteen species of cetacean have been identified within its waters, making it the highest cetacean biodiversity in the Philippines (representing 70% of all known cetaceans occurring in the country) and one of the highest in South East Asia.
Since the mid-18th century, cetaceans have been hunted for food and livelihood in the Philippines In 1992, the Department of Agriculture issued Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 185 banning the capture, trade, processing, and exportation of dolphins in the country.
LAMAVE initially started studying cetaceans in the Bohol Sea in February 2010, during which the team photographed and identified the first systematic sighting of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Philippines and the first sighting of a rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) in the Bohol Sea.
LAMAVE has been supporting the Cebu Marine Animal Rescue Network (CMARNET) and the Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Wildlife (BRUMW) since 2012 and 2010 respectively to ensure the safe rescue of marine animals in the two provinces.
CMARNET is a collaboration between the local government, police department, and non governmental organizations on the island of Cebu, and conducts stranding workshop trainings that provide comprehensive response strategies for marine wildlife rescue. The Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Wildlife (BRUMW) is overseen by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) with the aim of rescuing and rehabilitation marine wildlife across the province of Bohol. Some of BRUMW’s successful rescues include the rehabilitation and release of a juvenile hawksbill turtle (a critically endangered species under the IUCN) and the successful release of a stranded whale shark
Most recently (2017), we have started working in Panglao to study the dolphin tourism practices in the area.