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Vol. IV, No. 254 A Publication of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center 03 February 2006


  N e w s
  Arts & Culture
  Travel & Tourism
  Peace Process
Private initiative to rehab Sarangani Bay doing well
MindaNews / 02 February 2006

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- A private initiative to rehabilitate the marine environment around Sarangani Bay by a group of scuba divers has surpassed targets, the proponents dropping 1,353 artificial coral reefs nine months since the start of the project.

Christopher Dearne, a member of the Sarangani Bay Divers that is behind the project, said that by the end of 2006, they intend to submerge some 3,000 concrete reef domes in the bay.

Dearne’s group originally projected to drop only 1,000 reef domes in one year.

“These goals were easily achieved. As of last mid-January, we had over 1,300 concrete reef domes dropped to the bottom of the sea,” Dearne said in a report to the project’s private benefactors.

The divers’ project has already caught the attention of the public. Last November, the city council passed a resolution commending the divers for their rehabilitation project. 

Dearne, American John Heitz, and their Filipino diving buddies have been doing what local government units within Sarangani Bay ought to do -- to rehabilitate the corals damaged by dynamite fishing, pump boats’ anchors and fishing nets. 

The group made its first artificial reef dome last April. This they named Cambridge because their planning sessions were done at Dearne’s Cambridge Farm Hotel. 

Framed using plywood, the cemented “Cambridge Dome” has holes all over for the corals to thrive and as habitat for various kinds of fishes. 

All the other reef domes they made were produced using cement, sand and steel bars. 

With innovation, the group was able to produce reef domes costing only from P350 to P450 each. Those constructed abroad cost at least $80, or more than P4,000. 

The group’s pioneering efforts are paying off, bringing a sense of pride and satisfaction to its members.

Dearne noted that within only two weeks after setting up the reef domes, organisms have already attached themselves to the structure. 

“Tiny barnacles and white worm housings were visible. Algae were soon to follow along with small green tunicates. Damsel fish, Toby’s lion fish and even a mantis shrimp took residence within the domes,” he said.

Dearne said that octopus, crinoids, scorpion fish, a carpet anemone, shrimps, goat fish, grazing fish and porcupine puffers have also been spotted in the domes. 

The marine creatures are attracted to the domes following the transplantation of corals into the holes drilled on the outer surface, he said. Among those transplanted are the fast growing stag horn corals and soft hand corals. 

Dearne said that at Dupalco Beach here, the area where they set the domes and transplanted stag horn corals used to be just a sandy bottom with very little obvious life. “Now there are plenty of fish in the area! This result is very encouraging,” he said. 

Dearne said that the biggest problem in coral reef areas at Sarangani Bay is the use of fine-meshed nets, which he added is a “very destructive” method. “This should be stopped,” he stressed.

He urged government agencies to step in and prevent further destruction of the remaining natural reefs. 

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Photos and Text: Bai Ding de Castro

© Copyright 2006 MindaNews


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