Kota Kinabalu: Recent sightings of dolphins near the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, which went viral on the Internet recently, is a good indication of the local marine ecosystem, claim Universiti Malaysia Sabah's (UMS) Borneo Marine Research Institute Director, Prof. Dr Saleem Mustafa.
He said Sabah has the potential to become a place for dolphin and whale watching if the local marine ecosystem is effectively protected.
He said the mammal's echolocation system seems to have adapted to shallow coastal environment and may have the ability to sense conditions of the marine ecosystem.
"I must emphasise that there could be instinctive attributes and ability to perceive environmental cues that are not known to science but could be factors in the dolphin behaviour. This include their forays in the marine protected area so near the shore and so close to Kota Kinabalu," he said, Wednesday.
He said such sightings, however, are far from unusual, as most likely the mammals have a resident population in Borneo, and would venture into areas, especially where food is available and habitat.
"Food supply is a major factor in the distance they travel and visit places," he said.
Dr Saleem added if the dolphins are seen with their young ones, it would further mean that the calves felt secure in the area, as in shore and coastal areas, calves are protected from sharks. He said dolphins have good parental and nursing habits, as well as intelligent and fast learners, which may compel them to return to the same areas.
Hence, measures to protect the dolphins can also contribute to protecting the marine ecosystem in general.
"I would like to emphasise the importance of marine protected areas.
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