Guimaras & Iloilo Straits

Collaborators:  Dr. Louella Dolar has been leading the research and conservation efforts for this subpopulation of Irrawaddy dolphins since their discovery to science in 2004.  Mark de la Paz conducted his master’s research on these dolphins off the coast of Negros Occidental, and Dr. Lilian Buston Parreno (Guimaras State College) is involved in research and outreach about the dolphins on Guimaras Island.

This subpopulation of Irrawaddy dolphins ranges from the Iloilo Strait (running between the islands of Panay and Guimaras) to the Guimaras Strait (between the islands of Guimaras and Negros), and seem to mainly occur in the waters of the municipalities of Buenavista (Guimaras), Bago (Negros Occidental), and Pulupandan (Negros Occidental).  Though it has not yet been assessed by the IUCN, this is a small population (Dr. Dolar’s results indicate a population of less than 100) that overlaps with a number of human impacts: small-scale fishing, commercial fishing, shipping traffic, high-speed passenger boats, and pollution from two major urban centers (Iloilo and Bacolod).

This area is more developed than Malampaya Sound; the general standard of living appears to be higher, and infrastructure is more developed, with 24-hour electricity and easier access to education and medical care.  There is engagement by municipal governments in local marine resources management, including encouraging fishers in various villages to form associations so they can better lobby for their rights.  However, big concerns included illegal fishing by commercial boats and high-speed boat traffic, both of which are run by companies based outside the jurisdiction of local municipal governments.

I conducted preliminary visits for my research in spring 2010 and spring 2011; my main field season was February-March 2012.