#FindingCharlie makes waves online after coral reef vandal
MANILA, Philippines – Who's Charlie?
The name left a lasting impression on a piece of coral after it was vandalized using a stick or sharp object. (READ: Why we must protect our seas)
Vince Tenchavez, who posted photos of the vandalized coral on Facebook, stumbled upon the name during his dive at Bauan Divers Sanctuary (BDS) on September 23. It was etched on a house reef at around 40 feet. Divers who do a dive of up to 40 feet need certification or need to undergo a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Discover Scuba experience lasting two to three hours.
Tenchavez believes that the culprit is most likely an experienced diver.
"First time divers tend to move and fin a lot when underwater because they don’t know yet how to establish or maintain their balance and buoyancy. The 'CHARLIE' and '2018' were so well written,it would have taken a bit of time writing it."
Even if it was a new diver, that person would most likely go with a divemaster. "I’m a divemaster myself, and as divemasters we never allow our students to touch anything," adds Tenchavez.
This was in an area where Tenchavez with a group of divers and BDS staff have been working hard to propagate coral life by building coral propagation units. (READ: Is coral transplantation the way to save PH corals?)
“Can't believe a scuba diver has that low of an EQ and an absence of concern for marine life to do this. We believe this was done either September 22 or 23,” said Tenchavez.
Witnesses who saw the vandalism happen also didn't escape Tenchavez’s sermon. Tenchavez remarked, “To Charlie's dive buddies who witnessed him do this but did nothing to stop him, shame on you as well. You all should know better.”
“To all my non-diver friends who can see this post, you might think this is cool or cute, but it totally isn't. Doing this stupid thing kills the coral which took decades, even hundreds of years, to grow. So please don't even think about doing this,” he warned. (READ: Every Filipino has a role: Taking care of our oceans and seas)
Netizens— both divers and non-divers alike — were quick to express their anger and were intent on #FindingCharlie.
Charlie namesakes who didn’t perpetuate the crime also denounced the behavior.
Others suggested creating a task force to find the Charlie who ruined the corals or checking the list of people who dived during the dates when the vandalism possibly occurred.
Corals provide food and shelter for many forms of life, and are essential to the marine ecosystem. Though they are durable, there are still factors at play that make them struggle to recover from damage. (READ: What coral reefs are telling us about climate change) – Rappler.com