Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Annual Donsol count identifies 26 new whale sha

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Donsol - A couple new faces were among the old as the latest whale shark survey came to a close in Donsol.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines identified 58 individual whale sharks during the organizations’ 2021 population survey, held annually off the coast of Donsol.

Of the 58 whale sharks spotted during the survey, 32 were returning individuals that had been recorded during previous surveys. The remaining 26 were new to the site and had never been recorded before in Donsol.

The survey was conducted from March 27 to June 15, 2021 with a total of 27 days and 144 whale shark encounters. The highest number of encounters happened in the month of May, which clocked 78 encounters out of 144.

The previous season’s survey was suspended due to quarantine measures imposed by the government in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines.

This year, WWF-Philippines pushed through with the annual survey despite pandemic restrictions. The local government of Donsol and the local Bantay Dagat lent their support to the effort.

“We’re always pleased to see new individuals popping up in our annual whale shark survey. The waters off the coast of Donsol are really known for the whale sharks that pass through them. To be spotting new individuals year after year is proof that whale sharks still choose to come here,” said WWF-Philippines Project Manager Manuel Narvadez.

The Ticao-Burias Pass Protected Seascape (TBPPS), located between the provinces of Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur, is a biodiversity hotspot renowned for the presence of the charismatic whale shark.

Since 1998, WWF-Philippines has been working with the local government of Donsol and the Department of Tourism to protect the local whale shark population. Employing a landscape approach, WWF-Philippines and its local partners aim to minimize human pressures threatening the health of the TBPPS.

The conservation organization also helps operate a citizen science effort to keep track of whale sharks passing through the TBPPS. By tasking visiting tourists with documenting and sharing the whale sharks they identify while out on guided tours, WWF-Philippines has helped create employment for locals while developing a database of individual whale sharks that have passed through the area over the years.

While similar in appearance, each whale shark individual can be identified by the unique pattern of white spots across its body. The Wildbook for Whale Sharks maintains an online database of individuals that have been identified throughout the history of the species’ conservation.

“This International Shark Awareness Day is a good time to remind everyone of the need to safeguard places like the TBPPS, for the sake of species like the whale shark. Each new whale shark we identify serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting this precious place,” said Narvadez.

Winning with Nutrition: How Functional Carbs Can Support the Needs of an Athlete

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Our nutritional needs can be as unique as fingerprints.

Athletes are an example of a consumer group with special nutritional requirements. Some of the more common concerns among these consumers include boosting energy levels before or during exercise, as well as post workout recovery. Research has shown that an overwhelming majority of Asian consumers turn to food and drinks for an energy boost, with energy drinks, fruits and sports drinks being particularly popular.

However, even among these active consumers, different athletes have different needs.

Endurance athletes for instance, require a diet that provides them with sustained energy. This is where functional carbohydrates, otherwise known as smart-release carbohydrates, can play a role. Functional carbohydrates, such as BENEO’s Palatinose™ (generic name: isomaltulose), can help to enhance fuel management and endurance by delivering full carbohydrate energy in a balanced and sustained manner. That’s why they can be used to meet a wide range of consumer needs — including those of athletes.

 So, what are the nutritional requirements of an athlete?

Athletes train regularly and rigorously. They are constantly pushing themselves to improve and surpass their limits, hence physically exerting themselves more than the average person. For athletes, not only is it absolutely essential to have sufficient energy, but it is also just as important to have efficient fuel management.

However, beverages such as energy or sports drinks tend to have a negative image with the consumers. About two-thirds (67%) of Asian consumers found that energy drinks provide an instant but short-lived energy boost, while 48% of them found that sports drinks fail to provide them with long-lasting energy[1]. More than half (53%) are also concerned that energy drinks are unhealthy[2]. This means that there is an opportunity to optimise products targeted at the energy-related nutrition market.

Why functional carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are essential for athletes as they are our body’s main energy source. However, it is important to look at the quality of the carbohydrates we consume. ‘Fast carbohydrates’ such as maltodextrin and sucrose are commonly used in sports nutrition products, and release glucose into the bloodstream quickly when digested. This results in a rapid increase followed by a sudden decline in glucose levels as our body regulates the sudden rise, and this is known as the ‘boost and crash’ effect. While this is suitable for those in need of an instant burst of energy, these high-glycaemic carbohydrates are not ideal for those looking for endurance in their training or for achieving balanced energy levels throughout the day. Functional, or smart release carbohydrates, can help to provide a more steady and sustained energy supply, resulting in blood glucose levels that stay balanced — without sudden ups and downs.

Palatinose™, for instance, is ideal for athletes looking for a sustained energy supply. It is derived from pure beet sugar and also occurs naturally in small amounts of honey. In addition to having a natural, mild sugar-like taste with good solubility, this smart release carbohydrate is also fully yet slowly digested, thus providing full carbohydrate energy in a balanced and sustained manner. Scientific data from over 30 blood glucose response trials have all found a lower blood glucose response to Palatinose™ as compared to sucrose, maltodextrin, or other carbohydrates.

This lower and more balanced blood glucose response results in less insulin release and an improved metabolic profile, without the significant drops in blood glucose that are often associated with conventional higher glycaemic sugars. In addition, the lower insulin levels allow for a higher rate of fat burning instead of carbohydrate burning for energy supply. An increased fat burning rate is beneficial for the body composition of athletes, and also means that when Palatinose™ is used in sports nutrition products, consumers can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer.

Endurance athletes have also attested to its effectiveness. One of these athletes is Kafka Pampudi — an Indonesian CrossFit trainer who also regularly engages in endurance exercises such as cycling. After using Palatinose™ consistently for four months, he found that it had increased his endurance significantly. “When I was consuming regular carbohydrates, my energy was sustained for around one or two hours,” said Kafka. “But when I took Palatinose™, it can keep me energised for three hours or more!” He also discovered that supplementing with the functional carbohydrate helped to reduce his post-workout fatigue.

It is clear that athletes have very different dietary requirements — being a performance-driven group that regularly pushes themselves to meet their goals.

To help them keep up with strenuous physical activity, it is vital for them to factor in a relatively high energy intake. On the other hand, they must look towards products that deliver sustained, long-lasting energy to ensure consistency and endurance in their performance. Strong, promising functional ingredients like smart release carbohydrates can therefore suit their needs, helping them reach their full potential.

[1] BENEO (2020) Health & Nutrition Survey

[2] BENEO (2020) Health & Nutrition Survey
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