Few days ago, I went down for a work. Well, it was exciting especially that I waited for it for sometime. I went to work deep down – not with rolled-up sleeves, not with figures or computers, not on analysis, computations, and documents review but on something new to a Little Mermaid like me. Alright, it’s something outlandish and not everybody can do it or have the opportunity to do it.
For the past days, I chattered abut it with my team and even to Angel, I was eagerly waiting for it since last year! One sunny Wednesday, I was up earlier than usual with my gears packed previous night. Yea, my diving gears because I was joining the coral transplantation! This work was my lone dive for August, but very worthwhile in making a difference for a good cause.
It was sunny in Samburon when we got there, and the folks have started already the day’s activities and obviously waiting for us. It was good to see Lemuel, Mar Brandy, Lolong and the rest of the team. I asked Lemuel for a briefing including the procedures, he explained to us also the updates, problems encountered and why it took them long for the transplantation. I was beaming listening to him, as he explained the diagram of the substrates submerged months ago.
The guys were busy for the preliminaries, finally we’re heading for the boat – we’re using paddle boat as it was just near the shore. Well, donning the gears on a paddle boat is challenging! 🙂 We finally descend with Mar Brandy as my buddy. The water was bit murky so the visibility wasn’t good. There was nothing down until we got into the concrete substrates. We viewed the planted corals, it was all neat! They have shown all the types of substrates- rectangle, square and round. Lemuel made sign to watch him as he did the demo. It went like this:
- Polythelene pipes in clear plastic about 4 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter will be inserted to holes on substrates about 6 inches apart
- Pre-mixed cement and fine sand (1:1) packed in ice water plastic wrapper will be transferred to the installed pipes, carefully estimating its amount would be exact, as soon as it filled the pipe, cover immediately with palm to avoid it spreading out, after awhile as it hardened, fill other pipes. (about 3 pipes will be filled by each pack)
- After 3-5 minutes, pre-cut corals will be inserted to cemented pipes as in planting in a pot
- After 4 hours, planted corals will be taken out from the pipe and plastic, leaving only cemented corals which will be inserted back to the substrate holes
Not sitting on my desk, no desktop or laptop computer, no aircon whirring, no phone ringing, no cellphone beeps – just away from everything. Just breathe in silence concentrating on the task, relaxing somehow and watch in awe how one can do something to help improve our marine environment, our second home – the SEA!
Viewing the fully-planted substrates looked like a Christmas tree, especially the round ones! It requires much energy for the work and the conviction that all will grow and someday would become a colorful healthy coral garden. 🙂 I learned that the coral fragments must stay underwater until planted and must be careful in the transport from its harvest to avoid stress for the planting materials. As we went around, we noticed juvenile fishes taking refuge under the substrates and it was even more surprising when we found a lionfish swimming coyly under the second floor of the slab. Amazing! A migrant, a new boarder claiming the space as its new home. I was sure more tropical fishes will troop to the spot, soon to be filled with damsels, wrasses, angelfish, batfish, fusiliers, snappers, triggers, moorish idol, puffers, moray, anthias and more…. 🙂
At 9.9 meters it was all easy to stay longer underwater but after an hour we ascend, after going around all the planted substrates with the matching photos for the documentation. I found it very interesting and it was such a learning experience, I’m looking forward to do it again perhaps in the same site as 90% of the one hectare nursery still needs to be completed by the LGU of Linamon.
Yes, I would be willing to do it again – working in a different pressure in my wetsuit under the water! 🙂
Photos courtesy of Mr. Lemuel Alfeche
- Mission: Coral Watch (cbartazo.wordpress.com)
- Coral Reefs in Hot Water: More Reasons to Protect Cabo Pulmo, Mexico (switchboard.nrdc.org)