Naval Forces Southern Luzon participated in the two day Underwater Clean up to save the reefs of the coastal areas off Albay Gulf, accumulating destructive species like crown of thorns (Cots), a breed of starfish that destroys corals and other waste last 26 -27 June 2013 in celebration of Environmental Month.
Using Bamboo sticks and used sacks, NAVY divers together with other government and private organizations scoured the Pasig and Denson reefs located off the coast of Legazpi City and Hulugan reef in Manito town, Albay to collect crown of thorns (cots) or locally called “Pala-Pala”. Divers place the tip of the stick in between the cot and the coral, lifted it so the starfish automatically holds on the stick.
Accordingly, cots or Pala-Pala is a large, multiple-armed seastar that preys on hard, stony coral polyps. Growing up to approximately 80 cm in diameter, the cost are named after the dense spines radiating from their arms which belong to the group of starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumber and brittle stars.
Based on studies, the widespread of the cots was due to the over collection of tritons, a predator of the starfish, overfishing and rapid decline in predator’s populations through habitat destructions.
NAVFORSOL divers led by EN1 Willy B Bulawan PN departed Headquarters NAVFORSOL equipped with diving gears and one rubber boat en route to engagement area. A briefing was conducted by the personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Navy personnel regarding the proper ways of collecting crown of thorns and few tips about scuba diving.
Said activity aims to eradicate the widespread of destructive spicy that affects the socio-economic life of the residents primarily those were dependent on fishing and the eco-tourism of the Province as a whole. Likewise, the Local Government of Albay have developed a total of 24 diving sites in the province and 17 of these are co-located in the Albay Gulf which needs to be protected and develop to invite foreigners and diving investors which will contributes to the eco-tourism of the Province.
“The spirit of Bayanihan was once again shown by the different agencies involved in this activity, exerting unconditional efforts in the preservation and rehabilitation maritime species. Likewise, the NAVFORSOL will henceforth take this kind of activity as priority projects together with maritime security and law enforcement to continuously guard our seas and environment from exploitation”
said COMMODORE MANUEL NATALIO A ABINUMAN AFP, Commander, Naval Forces Southern Luzon.+
Press Release, July 9, 2013; Image: The Philippine Navy