100 Hours of Pure Bliss

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Just a note for one more milestone in my diving journey, month ago being on my 5th year in diving I earned 100 hours underwater. It was on my 123rd dive, not on a fancy dive resort wallowing in luxurious amenities but on Linamon coast in Iligan Bay.  It was an exploration dive on a sunny Sunday with blue skies, just perfect for an underwater venture.  After some works in the fish sanctuary, the Linamon project work force suggested for a break and went with me.

Although the west end of the fish sanctuary was not a usual site, we were not disappointed. The depths was blessed with biodiversity.  There was variety of corals, sponges, invertebrates, crinoids, hydroids and fish species.  We found nudis, juveniles and even crown of thorns. The visibility was good although there was kind of murky area, we didn’t find trash underwater. I was impressed that residents in the coastal area have managed well their waste disposal.  It just occurred to me that LGU Linamon was an awardee on War on Waste movement few years back.

Looking back, all my 100 hours were pure joy and very enriching – treasures indeed worth reminiscing. I have lost track in my dive log. I dive and dive with spontaneity, record my descents without counting the hours.  It was just coincidence that we ended with a sumptuous lunch at Grande Brasille Resto nearby.  I shared laughter and stories with Che, Sam, JR, Alvin Jay and Jong before going home.  It was still a celebration altogether!

MASAFA: A Fishy Story

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Magoong and Samburon Fisherman Association (MASAFA) is a group of fisherfolk in the two coastal barangays of Linamon,Lanao del Norte taking responsibility in the management of the established marine protected area (MPA) of  LGU Linamon.  Community-based projects is a strategy  found to be effective in marine protection and preservation among coastal areas.

The group actively participated in the coral transplantation project that aimed to preserved and enhance the coral reefs in the area.  The six-hectare MPA is under the responsibility of MASAFA committing to protect its surrounding waters.  They are patrolling the the area to prevent unwanted intruders disturbing the waters which includes beach goers.

As recipient of NRM project, the group was provided assistance in terms of income generating activities as alternative source of livelihood for the fisherfolk. A start-up capital of PhP 250,000.00 for their proposed  bangus production through fish cages  which they will managed to improve their capacity and capability to implement economic activities for the community.  As on-ground investments to support for their livelihood and improve their incomes.

MASAFA is just one of the rural communities that receive funding and technical support to pursue the objectives of the Mindanao Rural Development Program 2 in pump-priming Mindanao’s rural economy.

Celebrating Month of Ocean 2012

It’s about LIFE!

The merry month of May gave a wonderful promise  in terms of underwater undertakings.  Although I was limiting my travels outside the region, it was not a hindrance as I will be doing my works to assist in the final phase of the Linamon project.  Just that the Month of Ocean fell on this month, my underground works relative to the Coral Transplantation in the newly established marine protected area (MPA) in the Linamon waters within the jurisdiction of Barangay Magoong and Barangay Samburon, was dedicated for the marine world.  The significance of this last important ecosystem on earth can not be undermined, it is vital in maintaining the biological diversity of our world’s oceans.

Coral transplantation in the area is success!

For three weekends I had a wonderful and productive time with the fisherfolk in Linamon and had a total of nine dives in the area.  The progress and the completion of the works is an assurance that the restoration project would greatly increase the marine species in the site.  The biodiversity is evident as we found nudis, young crinoids, variety of juvenile

The sanctuary is now home to variety of specie

fishes and other invertebrates.  A vibrant coral started to sprout in the substrates, two baby nudis crawling on the module reef, a clown triggerfish roaming around. When two years ago, it was just a bare sandy area with no life at all. Angel and I basked in the clear waters going around the area observing each of the modules, either planted recently or almost two years ago.  What a sight while we took a closer look of the substrates just planted, a lionfish hung in mid-water near us as if observing us too! Our dives was for the coral transplantation and clean-up in the sanctuary.

A migrant lionfish swimming coyly near us!

The waters is home to me, the ocean a large kingdom filled with colorful life – incredibly beautiful and mysterious!  The underwater world is wonderful to behold.  This earth’s treasure needs our care and protection. What about you, how do you celebrate the Month of Ocean?

At Work: Beyond the Surface

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Finally, the concluding phase of the transplantation project took off and the massive operations started few days back.  The stakeholders eagerly waited for the completion of the project, it has been delayed and long been overdue from its timelines. To finish it off, the one hectare nursery from the six hectares marine protected area will be transplanted with acropora corals, twenty five modules will be fully planted, approximately about 4000 pvc pipe molders will be in placed.  It’s a formidable task, as of last week they planted about 1/10 of the total target area.

Despite a long week at work, I chose to spend my weekend in Linamon for the underground work.  The desire was so great and the Lord again perfectly arranged things for the trip.  The last time I went down the area was twenty months ago when few substrates were plant-tested with acropora corals taken from the nearby area of the sanctuary.  There had been great changes after such period, I would say for the better.  The plantlets have grown and branched out greatly – the tower substrates now looked like full-grown shrub or a small tree.  The concrete substrates withstood two typhoons that hit the region during the period, which could only mean it could last long from water currents and fierce movements underwater.

On a larger scale, the socio-economic impact of this project has favorably affected the community, beginning to understand the obligation to protect the environment and the resources where they are dependent for their livelihood.  The fisherfolk association of Samburon and Magoong have unite themselves to enforce and support the ordinance for the marine protected area.

The descents didn’t just freshen my gills but in more ways renewed my hope that we still can do something to protect and enhance our degrading underwater world.  We just need to get our acts together.

Note:

Linamon is situated in Lanao del Norte, the first town after Iligan City.  The famous Tinago Falls (western bank) is under the jurisdiction of this municipality. Another Natural Resource Management (NRM) project, the Preservation and Protection of Tinago Watershed under the MRDP is also in place.

The Linamon Project

The site in Barangay Samburon, Linamon, Lanao del Norte

In few days, we will commence our work in the Linamon coral transplantation, just few more days.  We have waited for so long, but now we will finally do it. The trajectory given by World Bank mandated to complete the works not later than June 30.  And it was a tall order.

Now, I can only imagine the dives that have to be done to finish the remaining area of the one hectare coral nursery.  For sure, it would be work unlimited underwater, for marine life preservation and protection in the area.  The community is involved in this project and have fully participated since it all started, one of the best practices to ensure the sustainability of the marine protected area. Finishing off the one hectare coral nursery is indeed a gargantuan task.

Planted corals on substrates
Planted corals on substrates

It’s been almost twenty months since I last joined them in the evaluation of the first few substrates that were tested.  Soon, I would be working in a different environment under different pressure.  Breathing underwater in gears, carefully planting the materials in “pots” in silence.  It’s pretty outlandish and not everybody has the opportunity to do this kind of work for the marine environment.

In few days I’ll be joining the good men of Linamon for this noble task and I can hardly wait. In few days…

NB. Underwater photo courtesy of Mr. Lemuel Alfeche