Just to offer some little things on how to help protect, conserve and rehabilitate our reefs...
Why should we care? If coral system dies (predicted 2050 by some groups if issues were not addressed), ocean life will be at big risk and will obviously impact humans. Food source alone relies very heavily on ocean. Even pigs and chicken relies very heavily on fish products for food – yes those pellets, and pigs/chicken eat more than what humans directly consume (according to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society).
Some tips/ reminders:
1. DO NOT step on corals. A hundred years of slow growth (slow growing reef-building hard corals takes many, many years and few generations to grow the size of small table), stepping on corals will kill the living edge/end of the corals.
2. When diving, DO NOT fin (i.e. the act of using the fins) very near the corals lest you break its parts. Remember - NEUTRAL BUOYANCY (like staying stable mid-water or just above corals)! If you ran out of space to kick, paddle up or side with your hand/arms and kick/fin only when space is enough. I once saw this diver swam by in front of me (while I was appreciating a hundred-year old sea whip (-elongated deep water hard coral), and with one little fin motion, he hit it in the middle breaking ’50 years of its life’! Damn it!
3. DO NOT harvest corals (ex. for aquarium use, or for its calcium carbonate). And do not purchase these items from Cartimar, or other source of illegal marine products. Yes – it is against the law and against the future of coral reefs (and humanity).
4. LEARN and educate yourself and others on corals, its unique importance in the ecosystem or why ocean life could be next to impossible without them. Just google it ;)
5. JOIN simple shore or underwater clean-up. It may look futile (the effort or output) but little effort do have cumulative effect. Besides, it’s sometimes fun to ‘discover’ trash-treasures every now and then.
6. When you can (like when you travel), try to EDUCATE ‘unaware’ fishermen or communities about the use of destructive fishing methods. Daanin lang sa kuentuhan (friendly story-telling approach). Dynamite, bottom-trawling (destroying corals in the path of big nets), long lines, among many other stupid things! Educate them about species that need NOT be harvested or poached (ex. sharks for its fin or liver/etc). I had a unique and pleasant opportunity to do this a tiny bit when I still hosts a conservation/wildlife show (GMA7’s Born to be Wild).
7. For badly beaten coral reef – when allowed (ex. Anilao needs special permit) PARTICIPATE in reef rehabilitation program. A simple approach is putting up ‘artificial reef’ (on or near the damage site)– the intent is to put a hard substrate so corals can start re-growing (accelerate the reef building process). The minor objective is to put temporary safety shelter for small fishes and the like.
The last item is sometimes tiring but fun and rewarding – especially when you see coral growth in your artificial reef (after a few weeks or months or even years). I guess it’s another good reason to start scuba diving… if you’re a diver, there’s always a ‘next level’ certification ;)
Why Scuba Dive