Tubbataha corals up for ‘check-up’

For the first time in a long time, the corals of Tubbataha will have a visit from a doctor. On the 23rd of April this year, scientists specializing in coral health will come to Tubbataha for the 2015 Coral Health Assessment in partnership with the University of Guam (UG) Marine Laboratory and Silliman University (SU) – Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences.

Dr. Alexander Kerr and Dr. Laurie Raymundo, both from UG and Dr. Aileen Maypa of SU will spearhead the said endeavor. The USS Guardian and MY Min Ping Yu grounding sites will be given a closer look for possible additional impacts on the coral communities after the grounding events.

“This will allow the TRNP management group to assess the health of communities that are already being monitored, [and make] comparisons of disease prevalence between grounding sites and remote healthy reef areas,” said Dr. Kerr and Dr. Raymundo through their concept note.

This will also allow an assessment of coral recruits less than one year old and an analysis of size-related impacts to coral health. Health impacts will include coral diseases (Raymundo et al. 2008) such as bleaching, predation, and physical damage. The planned undertaking is expected to enrich the knowledge of the managers and marine park rangers on the health impacts to corals by both natural and anthropogenic factors.

The conduct of this study is made possible through the support from Pilipinas Shell Foundation, who has been a long-time partner of TMO in conserving the Tubbataha Reefs. M/V Discovery Palawan is also contributing to the study through the provision of berths for the scientists at highly discounted rates. The three scientists will use the said dive boat as their diving platform for the duration of the study.