Saturday, June 5, 2010

WWF Awards Mindoro Fisherman for Saving Wounded Dolphin

“Let’s eat it!” said one of the two fishermen Randy Cayteles brought with him to investigate the wounded dolphin floating listlessly 10 meters from the shores of Barangay San Antonio in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. The animal – initially mistaken as a large shark – was revealed by the dawn rays to be of no threat to man or boat. 

“Hindi, akong bahala diyan (No, I’ll handle it).” said Cayteles, who assured his colleagues that the best course of action would be to report the stranding to the proper authorities.

Three hours after the discovery, elements of the PNP Maritime Office, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Agriculture Office Fisheries & Coastal Resource Management Division, City Veterinary Office and the Philippine Coast Guard’s Calapan City Detachment were on-site to treat the light wounds on the dolphin’s snout and dorsal fin.

By 0830H, the animal – identified as a 2.2 meter female Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) was readied for release. A collective hush swept over the assembled crowd, but after several tense minutes, the dolphin slowly swam off, carried by the tide to better fortunes.

“The right path is not necessarily the easiest to take,” says WWF Chairman Vincent S. Pérez, Jr. “Randy not only conferred a great honor upon his community. He actually saved a life – the greatest gift one can bestow.” Cayteles was recognized for his 20 May actions at the Silonay Elementary School in Calapan City last 5 June. Oriental Mindoro Governor Arman Panaligan and WWF-Philippines’ Johnjoe Cantos presented the fisherman with a plaque and a modest cash endowment.

Cayteles is but the third recipient of the coveted WWF Heroes of the Environment Award –created by WWF to recognize ordinary individualswhich show decisive environmental action. The first two were recognized in January 2009 for saving a Dugong in Palawan.

Adds Pérez, “Randy has set a stringent example of just what to do when faced with a marine animal stranding. His actions should not just be celebrated – they should be emulated.”

As part of its commitment to inspire a new generation of eco-warriors, WWF will be on the lookout for subsequent role-models.
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