• The diversity of tropical seas

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    In celebration of Environment Month and Coral Triangle Day last June, Australian marine biologist and artist Jay Maclean launched In Tropical Seas, his latest book about the magnificence and diversity of tropical marine life.

    To introduce Maclean and his book, a marine biology exhibit was staged at The Podium in Mandaluyong City through the joint partnership of the National Coordinating Committee for the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Embassy of Australia.

    “Australia and the Philippines face the same global challenges in areas like marine depletion, and the Australian Government is working with our partners in the Philippines on various initiatives through both bilateral and regional fora to address these,” said Warren Hoye, counsellor of the Australian Embassy, at the event.

    In Tropical Seas is a colorful 56-page book produced by the Zobel Foundation and United Graphic Expression Corp. (UGEC). It introduces young readers to tropical marine life and the significance of caring for it with paintings and drawings depicting animals, plants and scenes that are commonly seen in the tropical western Pacific Ocean, including Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and northern Australia.

    The book takes the reader on a visit to the shore and describes life in different habitats in the coastal zone, as he or she ventures from the beach, to the intertidal area, mangrove forest, sea grass meadows and coral reefs.

    Maclean says that his inspiration for the book came from the “absence of similar material for any age group.” He notes that “countries in tropical areas have long been accustomed to using books from other parts of the world that are not appropriate for the region, or using photographic field guides set out in a taxonomic progression aimed mostly at adult divers.”

    The exhibition, on the other hand, features many of the illustrations used in the book, as well as newer and older works. Most are large acrylic paintings capturing the vast beauty and vulnerability of coral reef ecosystems, driving home the themes of interconnectedness, collaboration, and the substance of safeguarding our marine resources. The exhibition also features sounds capes created by Maclean for themes featured in specific paintings.

    Maclean is an Australian marine biologist who has been living and working in the Philippines since 1980, observing and documenting marine life through scientific and artistic means. He is an honorary member of the Angono Artists Association and has exhibited with them and in solo exhibitions. Maclean is also a consultant with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

    Guests during the launch included Australia Embassy’s Counsellor Warren Hoye, publisher Enrique Zobel Foundation Chairman Dee Zobel, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)’s Undersecretary Analiza Teh, acclaimed marine biologist Edgardo Gomez, Mexican Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Christian Clay Mendoza, and Asian Development Bank officers. SM Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications Group Millie Dizon and The Podium Mall Manager Nona Go welcomed them.

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