Friends from Fujitsu Ten Solutions Philippines Inc. celebrated their love for marine biodiversity in Submarine Gardens One, Lobo, Batangas on february. The company partnered with Haribon Foundation for their environmental activity.
Knowing that Haribon is the pioneer non-government organization on nature conservation in the Philippines, the company organized an event with them that involved an orientation on marine life, a visit to the mangrove forest and snorkeling. Although some of the participants were scuba divers and experienced with underwater life, they were still excited to know and understand marine biodiversity more fully.
The day started with a water safety briefing to orient participants of the underwater world that is wonderful and exotic. The seas are full of mysterious, vibrant creatures that become deadly when threatened by intruders like humans.
All participants were eager to dive in and to explore the blue domain, waiting to have a glimpse of the locally unknown but world-renowned reef systems in the world of the Verde Island Passage, an area located between the waters of Batangas and Mindoro Island in Luzon. The passage was pronounced the “center of marine biodiversity” in 2005 and boasts of 319 reef systems and underwater rock canyons that house 60 percent of the world’s shore fish species. Its unique aspect is that it can be found within a 10 square meter area. There are some that even recognize this place as the marine equivalent of the Amazon River basin.
On their first venture, they snorkeled and swam with various fishes including the batfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, butterfly fish, angelfish, Moorish idol, Moon wrasse and flute mouth to name a few. They were able to quickly identify the sea anemone known to many as “Nemo” from the Walt Disney animation film, Finding Nemo.
The fish weren’t the only sight in the area as corals were abundant too. There were several coral life forms like the branching and non-branching Acropora, foliose and tubular. Most of the participants were quite surprised with their varied underwater finds and naming them all was quite challenge.
To acquaint the swimmers, Haribon staff gave an orientation on the Philippines’ rich marine biodiversity. They were given the basics of coral and fish identification to aid them in their future search and hopefully share their learning with others. Several participants were able to draw what they have seen and recognized some of the living creatures as the slides of the presentation continued.
With their newfound appreciation of marine biodiversity, participants were educated with the current status and threats to marine life, as well as the importance of conserving marine biodiversity. The Philippines may be one of the richest in marine biodiversity but it is also the most threatened by destructive human activities such as increasing garbage generation, collection of marine life for souvenirs or commercial use, illegal fishing, oil spill, among many others.
The participants jumped into their second snorkeling session, armed with new knowledge and enthusiasm. They were able to familiarize themselves with the variety of life under the sea for the second time. To complete the whole marine ecosystem experience, the team went on a mangrove tour. They were briefed about the importance of mangrove forests not just for marine life but humans as well.
The day may have ended with aching muscles and tanned skin, but the participants surely gained more appreciation for marine biodiversity. Participants expressed their gratitude for the event as they were awarded with their certificates.
One shared how he was inspired with the efforts of Haribon Foundation to conserve nature. Researchers who chose to work locally for the environment amazed him. Those who snorkeled were able to appreciate the marine field guide they used for fish identification, which is not usually something made available or taught during scuba or skin diving lessons. The marine guide also made participants confident on naming at least two fish types and coral forms while underwater.
It was indeed a remarkable day filled with learning and appreciation for marine biodiversity. Fujitsu Ten Solutions has taken the first two steps—education and experience—in biodiversity conservation. As informed stewards of the marine environment, participants went back to their workplace with the reminder that their actions and lifestyle will always have an effect on marine life.