DENR acquires new technology to monitor state of coral reefs
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is now using state-of-the-art equipment to monitor the health of the country’s coral reefs in three pilot sites, and to help improve the protection of marine ecosystems in the long run.
Scuba divers from the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau on Friday installed autonomous reef monitoring systems (ARMS) in underwater sites off Carabao Island in Cavite, Mactan Island in Cebu, and Snake Island in Palawan, the DENR said.
The installation of the equipment is the culminating activity of the celebration of May as the Month of the Ocean, BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim said in a news release.
The ARMS is a device made up mostly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material secured to coral reefs with metal weights that can mimic coral reefs and, over time, attract or collect small reef animals known as “cryptic reef biodiversity,” she said.
“A group of ARMS installed in a specific area could provide a systematic and consistent method of monitoring marine life forms. They also provide data on how climate change impacts such as ocean warming and acidification affects them, or how marine ecosystems develop and maintain their resilience to these impacts,” Lim said.
But she clarified that the ARMS will be used initially for educational purposes only.
The devices will be left underwater and retrieved a year later, after which all organisms found on or within the unit will then be extracted and analyzed by biologists, she said.
“These will be presented to the community to give them an idea about the marine life in their vicinity which will, hopefully, encourage them to help in the conservation and protection of our marine ecosystems,” Lim said.
After retrieval, the ARMS will be redeployed for further studies. The BMB is also planning to increase the number of ARMS units in specific sites to provide additional data for research purposes.
Members of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, the local Bantay-Dagat, and students also took part in the activity, the DENR said.
The event was attended by representatives of partner agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), local government units, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and the Philippine Coast Guard in Palawan.
More than 800 ARMS have been deployed to date by NOAA divers throughout the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, according to the DENR.
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