ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY – The area between Olutanga Island and the mainland of the province has been put under Alert Level 1 by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for possible coral bleaching as temperatures continue to heat up as it included the entire Moro Gulf as one of the areas in the country under Warning Level status.
This is based on its satellite map, NOAA, a scientific agency of the US Department of Commerce released May 18. NOAA monitors the conditions of oceans, major waterways, and atmosphere worldwide.
There are at least two marine sanctuaries in the Moro Gulf – Buluan Island Marine Sanctuary in Ipil, and Bangaan Marine Sanctuary in Tungawan.
The Dumanquilas Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape, a National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) area, is also in the Moro Gulf,
The Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch, in its Facebook post, said the “entire Philippines is experiencing warm temperatures and might continue in the coming days.”
The coral watch group urged the public to help monitor the conditions of reefs by “simply take a photo or video of the reefs you visit and report your findings via http://tinyurl.com/phbleachingreport.”
The first mass coral bleaching in the Philippines was documented in 1998. Coral bleaching happens when coral reefs lose its colorful algae and appear fluorescent or white in color as it is continually exposed to high temperatures.
Ninety percent of the coral’s energy comes from algae. Bleaching, which happens when sea surface temperatures rise above the average due to global warming at a prolonged period, may lead to the death of corals depriving the fish of their habitat.
In the municipality of Ipil, the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) had observed bleaching of the coral reefs in the past. (amm)