Whale shark sightings promote Bone Bolango as tourist destination

Gorontalo (ANTARA News) - Bone Bolango District Head Hamim Pou has been grateful that regular sightings of 17 whale sharks in Botubarani waters, have attracted tourists to visit the region.

"The presence of the 17 whale sharks is blessing for Bone Bolango District. Therefore, we must always protect them," Pou said here, Saturday.

He called on residents of Bone Bolango to help preserve the giant fish and make them feel comfortable living in the area.

"Bone Bolango District has developed community-based tourism management, so the local community could earn money from maritime tourism or from whale shark tourism," he said.

Local residents sell food, opens diving equipment rentals, and provide boats for tourists.

The district recently took part in a national fair held in Jakarta to promote whale shark sighting tourism. Some 400 districts across Indonesia joined the fair.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, however, recently reminded that whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the Botubarani waters, Kabila Bone, Bone Bolango District, Gorontalo Province, must not be over exploited,

"I appeal to you to not destroy the phenomena of 17 whale sharks in Gorontalo. Because as we intensify tourism, we must not injure the whale sharks while we watch, approach and appreciate them," she said when visiting the district on Saturday.

She urged visitors and locals to keep a distance from the whale sharks, whose frequent sightings have attracted tourists.

Pudjiastuti expressed her concern over whale sharks that are wounded.

"Many of them are wounded in the back, head or tail. I think everyone must swim from the land to there. No boat is allowed to approach (the sharks)," the minister said after swimming and interacting with several whale sharks, Saturday.

Boats have caused injuries to the giant fish, she noted. (*)