Residents collect beached sardines

Residents collect beached sardines

COTABATO CITY — An unusually large volume of tiny sardines were swept onto the beaches of Maasim town, Sarangani province at dawn on Sunday, a peculiar event that has superstitious villagers believing it is a sign of good tidings for the year.

“This is a blessing from God. We are thankful to God for this,” Allan Gomez Dionaldo, a 28-year-old villager, told reporters in Filipino. He and his neighbors had collected at least five pails of tiny sardines each at the beach in Barangay Tinoto.

Village officials helped oversee the collection of what fishery experts called juvenile pelagic sardines for all to have a fair share. Hundreds of villagers had brought home least 20 to 30 kilos each of the tiny sardines, locally called lopoy.

The so-called beaching of the big volume of sardines is a phenomenon caused by the confluence of a sudden change in sea temperature, wave direction and lack of planktons to feed on.

Cirilo Aquadera Lagnason, Jr., a staff member of the Protected Area Management Office of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-12, said the beaching of juvenile pelagic sardines is not a conclusive indication of underwater seismic activity as often interpreted by the public.

Old folks traditionally warn of a calamity or disaster to happen after there are peculiar but scientifically explainable beaching of fish species by the beach. — John Felix M. Unson