Diversity thrives in Sagay marine sanctuary
MANILA, Philippines - For nature lovers, the Sagay Marine Reserve (SMR) in Negros Occidental has lots to offer.
The 32,000-hectare marine reserve area in Sagay City, which was started in the 1970s as a personal crusade of then mayor Alfredo Maranon Jr., has become a shining example of marine diversity in full bloom.
More than 3 decades after its establishment, the SMR is now a significant tourist destination in Negros Occidental, with the number of visitors increasing by about 250% - from 1,941 in 2009, when it first opened to tourists, to 7,185 in 2012.
The SMR is composed of Carbin Reef, Macahulom and Panal Reef, as well as Molocaboc Daku and Diot islands, and Suyac islet.
The Carbin Reef, a 200-hectare marine sanctuary featuring a unique, tongue-shaped sand bar, and clear blue water, is the most popular among visitors, especially because it is ideal for snorkeling, swimming, and other water related-activities.
Among the reef’s attractions are schools of fish, blooming coral formations and sea turtles.
Macahulom and Panal reefs are known for their colorful coral and abundant marine life, and the presence of migratory birds, while Suyac islet is home to centuries-old mangrove trees, large crabs and white sand beaches.
The mid-sea watch towers of Carbin, Macahulom and Panal reefs have become landmarks of Sagay City and icons of marine life conservation.
In Molocaboc, which forms part of SMR, islanders, numbering at 6,000, live simple lives. Residents store water in giant earthen jars for bathing, washing clothes and cooking as electric supply is limited.
Islanders basically rely on the sea - shells from the “sea mines” and fish from “sea ranching.”
By creating an artificial habitat on the seabed using tires and large stones, fishermen draw fish to their miracle hole and harvest them in 3 to 4 months.
A kilometer walking path connects Molocaboc Daku and Diot. It disappears during high tide and residents walking on it look like they are treading on water.
Islanders are also engaged in a massive project to reforest the mangroves, which serve as the spawning areas for various fish.
The Sagay marine conservation effort got a boost from the introduction of an innovative way to regenerate and rehabilitate coral reefs.
BioRock utilizes low-voltage DC currents to electro-chemically deposit calcium on metallic meshes. These calcium-rich substrates then promote coral growth rates up to 5 times the normal rate and increase the survivability rate by about 20 times during coral bleaching events.
Maranon said the sanctuary has protected Sagay’s marine resources for 3 decades and has also resulted in the abundance of sea catch today.
Maranon said it has also become a “victim of its own success” because the ample supply of fish has drawn poachers from different parts of the Visayas to the area.
To address the poaching activities, Bantay Dagat members constantly patrol the marine sanctuary.
For island-hopping enthusiasts, a trip to SMR is a rare adventure. Make sure to enjoy the seascape and marine life thriving in the blue-green waters and immerse into the bliss and beauty of preserving part of the Visayan Sea. – Rappler.com
The Philippines is home to one of the most diverse marine ecosystems around the world. Explore its wondrous natural sights and find a new love for traveling. If you are on a budget, click here and take advantage of amazing discounts for your travel and hotels.