Why corals matter: PH celebrates Coral Triangle Day

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020   •   468

Did you know that corals are not rocks? They aren’t plants either.

Corals are animals. At a glance, we picture corals as uniquely-shaped rocks with seaweed-like leaves but in reality, corals are composed of tiny creatures called ‘polyps’.

Coral polyps are tiny organisms that are more closely related to sea anemones and jellyfishes.

What do they do exactly?

Corals serve as home to numerous sea creatures. It also protects coastlines to dissipate huge waves. Scientists can also determine prehistoric climate patterns by studying coral reefs which can make a huge impact on how we should live in the present.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle which is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is considered as the center of global marine diversity.

The Coral Triangle covers areas in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands. It is the home of 2.5 million hectares of coral reefs, 500 species of corals and 1,763 reef species.

In celebration of Coral Triangle Day, the DENR sets out to raise awareness on the importance of corals and the Coral Triangle in the country.

“There are 130 million people directly dependent on its marine natural resources,” the DENR said.

What can we do?

CleanSeas Pilipinas reiterated the importance of preserving coral reefs especially when climate change and pollution in the ocean continue to threat marine life.

Here are some of the actions we can do to help save the coral reefs:

  • Don’t touch coral reefs!
  • Use reef-safe sunscreens
  • Don’t purchase corals from gift shops
  • Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups

“Protecting them is essential to food security as coral reefs contribute to 70% of fishery production in the world,” the organization said. –AAC

Leatherback sea turtle found dead in coastal waters of Bohol

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

A dead leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) was found floating in the coastal waters of Talibon, Bohol.

Leatherback sea turtles are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are considered as critically-endangered in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic.

The Talibon Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the City Environment & Natural Resources Office (CENRO) buried the leatherback sea turtle but later exhumed and turned it over to the National Museum for preservation. Samples were also taken for genetic analysis for further study.

“This is the first recorded stranding incident of leatherback in the province,” the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP) said in a post.

The CMEMP also said that leatherback turtles are named for their shell, which is leather-like rather than hard, like other turtles. They are the largest sea turtle species and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. AAC

Cimatu calls out Cebu officials’ ‘lack of coordination’ in reporting COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 29, 2020

There is a lack of coordination from the local officials of Cebu City which led to the discrepancy in reporting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the area, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.

DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda said this is one of the issues Cimatu wants to resolve in Cebu City.

“You can see the situation in Cebu, walang coordination. Walang buong pagkilos mula sa barangay level to the local government units to the provincial government. Hindi buo (You can see the situation in Cebu, there is no coordination. No action from the barangay level to the local government units, up to the provincial government. It is not organized),” he said.

Cimatu will meet with officials from the barangay level to determine the problem in the COVID-19 response.

The Environment Secretary will submit a recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) regarding possible measures to ease the surge of COVID-19 cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Cimatu to fix the situation in Cebu City amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.

Cimatu said all records should match in order to implement a better COVID-19 response. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

DENR seizes P3.2-M worth of agarwood

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 23, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has seized 20 kilos or P3.2 million worth of agarwood in two separate operations.

DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) and the NBI-Environmental Crime Division conducted operations in Pasig City and Cainta, Rizal last June 8.

Four suspects, identified as Ramil Ong, Bernie Bagay, Rizal Mofar, and Arjhun Gaviola, were arrested for the illegal transportation of the said high-value tree species.

“This clearly sends out the message that the government’s campaign against environmental offenders remains unrelenting despite a pandemic that is wreaking havoc worldwide,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The four suspects were charged with violations of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Protection Act. They are detained at the NBI detention facility in Manila.

Agarwood is one of the most expensive raw materials used in perfumery, costing at least P160,000 per kilo in the Philippines.

It is extracted from host trees locally known as Lapnisan and Lanete, which are both included in the national list of threatened Philippine plants. —AAC

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