ArchivesJuly 2010NegOr corals bleaching

NegOr corals bleaching


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The Environment & Natural Resources Division of Negros Oriental has discovered coral bleaching in some reef ecosystems in the province. {{more}}

The coral bleaching events, however, are not alarming although the ENRD has yet to determine what has triggered the whitening of corals, said Annabelle Barillo, a scuba diver and environment management specialist of the ENRD.

The common triggers of coral bleaching are temperature change, changes in ocean chemistry, infectious disease, and the infestation of the crown-of-thorns sea star, she said.

The most recent, although minimal, fresh coral bleaching was noted in the marine protected area in Maayong Tubig in Dauin town, a portion of which was recently destroyed when a cargo vessel allegedly plowed through it during stormy weather.

Barillo, along with ENRD’s Glendo Lazarte and the police environment desk officer of Dauin, PO2 Richard Eleona, conducted an underwater ocular survey of the damaged reef in Maayong Tubig to support the local government’s efforts to seek remuneration for the destruction of the said marine protected area.

Last June 10, the ENRD team also noted some fresh coral bleaching events in the Iniban marine reserve in Ayungon, with some three to four crown-of-thorns collected from the said protected area.

According to Barillo, it is normal for coral bleaching to occur in patches in reefs where the crown-of-thorns starfish is present.

What is most important is to prevent an overpopulation of the crown-of-thorns starfish, a carnivorous predator that preys on coral polyps, she said.

Monitoring teams and Bantay Dagat (fish wardens) have been trained to regularly collect crown-of-thorns starfish from the marine reserves to prevent infestation and coral bleaching.

If more than 20 crown-of-thorns starfish are found in a hectare of coral formation, this could become alarming, said Barillo.

Other than that, their presence in the coral reefs is not threatening as they are part of the reef’s ecosystem.

Last March 8, this year, the ENRD prevented a crown-of-thorn infestation in the marine protected area of Bolisong in Manjuyod town, she said.

While more than 130 crown-of-thorns starfish were collected that day, luckily the damage to the coral was minimal, she added.

Only less than 100 square meters in patches of coral bleaching were noted in the Bolisong MPA, Barillo said.

The ENRD will be constantly monitoring possible outbreaks of crown-of-thorns in the province amid irregular climate conditions although control measures are already in place with local coastal communities assisting the said office. (PNA/Judy Flores)

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