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The Philippines: The center of marine life in the universe: part 1

  
  
  
  
  

Anemone fish by Robert Kellywant to share with a three part blog edited from an article which appeared in the Daily Tribune on September 29, 2011 and was written by Deni Rose Afinidad. This article will help explain why the Philippines is such a precious marine resource and well worth putting on every diver’s bucket list.

Why we Need to Protect the Marine Biodiversity of the Philippines

Preserving the Philippines, marine biologist Kent Carpenter noted, should be a global priority because the country, according to his years of research verified by many scientists from different fields, has been found out to be “the center of the center of marine life in the universe,”  - the place with the most number of marine species per unit area, or the “bull’s eye” or concentration of species in the Coral Triangle.

Coral reef by Robert Kelly

The Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle is a 5.4 million square-kilometer stretch of ocean encompassing six countries, including the Philippines. It is less than one percent of the world’s total surface area, and yet it contains 75 percent of the Earth’s coral species and coral reefs.

“About every group of species — seaweeds, grass, crustaceans, snails, among others — peak their diversity in the Coral Triangle,” Carpenter revealed.

Their team made a distribution map identifying 2,983 species in the Triangle, and based on this map the Philippines has the highest concentration of species in the Triangle. In fact, it has more marine species than anywhere else on the planet. “This is surprising to us because we were predicting to find it in eastern Indonesia because it is in the equator and because of the number of species discovered there,” he admitted

Why the Philippines? The answer to this puzzle, said Carpenter, might be the key to protecting the world’s marine biodiversity.

Center of biodiversity

Carpenter has three main hypotheses why the Philippines has become the heart of marine life on the planet:

  1. The country is an area of refuge for marine species. The country, he maintained, has more diversity of habitats (sea grass, soft sediments, corals, etc.) than anywhere else on Earth;
  2. The country is an area of concentration because of geology or ocean patterns;
  3. He theorizes that the country is a center of origin — the Philippines might be where species originate and are evolving.

 Detailed explanations for these hypotheses will be in part two of this blog series

 School of jacks at Moalboal by Robert Kelly

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