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A very marine Christmas treat

 
Clockwise from top left: Nembrotha kubaryana, Hypselodoris tryoni, Nembrotha lineolata, Goniobranchus leopardus, Cirrhitus pinnulatus, Rastrelliger kanagurta, Solenostomus paradoxus, and Heniochus diphreutes (top) Hemitaurichthys polylepis (bottom)
Camillia Jane Bollozos | December 16, 2016

The purpose of establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is to protect the biodiversity of our marine and coastal habitats and in turn creating a sustainable source of livelihood for our local communities. Livelihood in the coastal communities is not only limited to fishing but a growing industry involving MPAs is tourism. Tourism is an opportunity for the local community to showcase the colorful organisms found in their MPAs and here are a few of these wonderful marine species:

Nudibranchs are shell-less mollusks and can be found in shallow tropical waters. This group of species is a favorite for avid underwater photographers. The photos above are just a few found in MPAs monitored by CCEF. The Nembrotha kubaryana, photographed here on top of a dead coral, was observed in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, Negros Island. It brings color and life to monotonous damaged reefs. The mating Hypselodoris tryoni, shown here, was observed in Olang Marine Sanctuary, Siquijor, The nudibranchs Nembrotha lineolata and Goniobranchus leopardus were also observed in MPAs in Siquijor.

Colorful fish species such as the Cirrhitus pinnulatus (commonly known as hawkfish), the Heniochus diphreutes (often mistaken as the Moorish idol, hence known as the false Moorish idol), and the Hemitaurichthys polylepis (commonly named as the Pyramid butterflyfish) provide a delightful scenery for divers and snorkelers exploring Apo Island Marine Sanctuary. Another attractive fish species that can be observed in Siquijor is the Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus). Little maybe known about its exact ecological importance but it gives us assurance that it is protected and thus we have time to understand it better.

One of the most common fish species that find refuge in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary is the Indian mackerel Rastrelliger kanagurta. This fish is one of the most common protein sources in the Philippines that it has different names for every region in the country such as “Carabalyas”, “Anduhaw”, “Alumahan”, “Hasa-hasa”, and “Tamarong”.

Continued protection of these MPAs will ensure that more colorful and interesting marine species will thrive and make for a healthier and resilient ecosystem.

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