Environmentalist, professional diver Rio Cahambing with Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) officer Servando C. Tio Jr. and volunteer Dag Navarette were recently doing assessment/documentation in Marine Protected Area (MPA) fishing ground in barangay Punta, San Francisco, Southern Leyte, last June 8, during the celebration of World Oceans Day. This place was tagged as a marine protected area because of its diverse coral reefs and healthy population of fish and invertebrates.
They dove into the selected area to determine reef damages caused by Typhoon Odette that hit the province and neighboring towns last December 16, 2021.
During the dive, they found that there were several corals showing “signs of life” in the area, Cahambing enthusiastically mentioned in his posts.
“In 2003, there were several landslides in barangay Punta which displaced many communities and covered vast areas of coral reefs. To give tribute to those who lost their lives and to serve as legacy for the next generations, the community decided to establish this MPA in their honor,” Cahambing said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae attach to submerged rocks or other land surfaces along the edges of islands or continents. With the growth rates of 0.3 to 2 centimeters per year for massive corals, and up to 10 centimeters per year for branching corals, it can take up to 10,000 years for a coral reef to form from a group of larvae. Depending on their size, barrier reefs and atolls can take from 100,000 to 30,000,000 years to fully form.
According to NOAA, “coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities, and offer opportunities for recreation. They are also a source of food and new medicines. Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection.”
Cahambing intend to cover as many marine protected areas throughout the province.