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Philippines: Fisherman saved by dolphins and whales

According to Filipino fisherman Ronnie Dabal, he was saved by dolphins and whales when his boat was turned upside down last week in Palawan, Philippines.

Redempto Anda wrote this story for the Philippine Daily Inquirer – the country’s leading newspaper. How did the dolphins and whales save the fisherman’s life? Below is the fisherman’s story:

“Early in the morning while fishing for tuna in the choppy waters of Puerto Princesa Bay, a squall came upon him and turned his boat upside down.

“Dusk came as Dabal’s hopes started to vanish and a creeping darkness began to envelope him. From out of nowhere, a pod of around 30 dolphins and a pair of whales measuring about 10 meters in length came and started to flank him on both sides.

“As he lay still on top of his piece of plastic board, Ronnie narrated how the dolphins would alternately nudge his tiny life raft using their pectoral fins towards the direction of land.

“Dabal said he passed out while the dolphins were doing their slow chore of nudging him to shore, and woke up on the beach of Barangay (Village) Luzviminda where he was finally assisted by local residents there.”

The fisherman is also a dolphin spotter.

Blogger Ang Kape Ni LaTtEX was fascinated by the story of the fisherman. He connects the story to the need to promote eco-tourism in the country:

“Dolphin spotters — a common second job for Puerto Princesa fishermen — head out early in the morning to look for large pods of dolphins, whose location they then relay to boatmen bringing tourists in for dolphin watching tours (using, what else: SMS text messages).

“Clearly, the Philippine eco-tourism scene’s promising outlook presents several lessons that must be fully appreciated. Foremost of these lessons is that locals will fiercely defend whatever livelihood they have — make the environment their livelihood and they will defend it out of their own volition. Everything else follows — compliance with laws, self-policing amongst ranks, even a total change in attitude with regards to littering.”

But DJB doubts the story of the fisherman. He explains his reasons:

“Sorry, but it sounds to me like a fairy tale for adults. Or a parable pleading for a kinder, gentler Homo sapiens. If this were some illiterate fisherman, and not one of Mayor Ed Hagedorn’s “dolphin wardens”, the story would be nearly miraculous. As it stands, though, I am almost ashamed to admit it, But I’m SKEPTICAL about the entire veracity of this story! I don’t know why, but that was my first impression after reading PDI’s (Inquirer) story today. Now there are a lot of details…Hmmm…

“Been doing a prelim search. I haven’t found even ONE reported instance of such a thing happening in the past. But then, that is just my googling.

“Also, I didn’t realize that crustaceans (”bugto”) could swim out in the open ocean and eat up soggy fishermen. Maybe on the beach, but while he was floating on the piece of styropor? These must be amphibious bugto super cannibalistic crabs or something.

“Thirty spinner dolphins and two pilot whales saves a human being. That’s one for the headlines.”


View Larger Map

Palawan is located on the western side of the Philippines. It is part of the Luzon region. It is a popular tourist attraction; and more importantly, it is endowed with natural treasures:

“The island province of Palawan has been declared as a natural sanctuary of the world, and for good reason. It is wrapped in a mantel of rainforests, outstanding dive sites, majestic mountains, primeval caves, and pristine beaches. It is surrounded by a coral shelf that abounds with varied and colorful marine life. It boasts of exotic flora and fauna, like the mousedeer and the scaly anteater, that are found nowhere else.

“Palawan waters are among the best in the world, not only for diving but also for fishing. A diver’s paradise, it has miles of sub- surface coral and rainbow reef walls whish surround the coasts and coves teeming with rich marine life.”

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