Life underwater is always an amazing thing to experience, especially for those involved with SCUBA or marine biology. Unlike normal travelers, this unique group of people tend to have a deeper connection to the ecosystems and less of a shallow mindset on the importance of said environments. Travel to the Philippines can be an extensive and expensive journey, however the vast beauty of the biodiversity in the countless reefs surrounding the archipelago are by far worth the efforts. The Coral triangle itself contains the most biodiversity than any other stretch of ocean in the planet, washing over the tropical waters of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. This incredible underwater landscape houses over five hundred species of reef-building corals and is sometimes referred to as the Amazon of the seas.
Similar to the Amazon forest, and the conservation efforts being made to preserve the important biological value it holds, the Coral Triangle is also home to many conservation efforts that have the same focus, just in a wetter way. The Philippines in particular is one of the world’s centers for marine conservation efforts with a little over 1600 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as of 2011. Globally, there are 10,280 MPAs covering 2.3% of the world’s oceans, with most of them located in coastal and near-shore areas (Spalding et al. 2013). Many of these MPAs, as seen below, are generally located near the equator where the vast majority of coral reefs and marine life inhabit, with the Coral Triangle holding a large majority of them.
Even with the large amount of MPAs around the globe, there are still many areas that are not under protection. Only about 1% of the world’s oceans are technically protected, posing threats to the important ecosystems that make up our interconnected planet. With the spread of more information to lesser informed communities around the world, both first and third world, more efforts can be made to further the progress of marine conservation and preserve these amazing ecosystems that we hold for granted. Through more marine conservation efforts, we as a species can save and share these beautiful environments for generations to come.
Spalding MD, Meliane I, Milam A, Fitzgerald C, Hale LZ. Protecting Marine Spaces: global targets and changing approaches. Ocean Yearbook 2013; 27:213-248.