A rare double-barrier reef in the Philippines is facing grave threats and urgently needs increased protection, according to new photographic evidence released today from a team organized by Project Seahorse, a partnership of the University of British Columbia and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
One of only six double-barrier reefs in the world and home to nearly 200 threatened species, Danajon Bank is an evolutionary birthplace of fish and other species found all over the Pacific ocean. Currently, 500,000 people depend on it as a source of food and income. As a result, the region is coming under increasing human pressures, including overfishing.
“Project Seahorse has helped establish dozens of small marine protected areas (MPAs) in Danajon Bank over the past two decades,” says Heather Koldewey, Head of Global Conservation Programmes and Co-Founder and Field Conservation Manager of Project Seahorse. The most recent of these MPAs was through ZSL’s Project Ocean initiative with Selfridges department store. “But the world needs to see the state of this ‘centre of the centre’ of marine biodiversity and help establish a marine reserve for the region.” ZSL-Philippines is actively working with the Project Seahorse team in an innovative new project that is integrating mangroves into MPAs, protecting the diversity of species and marine habitats across the Danajon Bank.
The team from Expedition: Danajon Bank today unveiled first photographic proof of the region’s biodiversity and destruction. The expedition was a partnership with the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
“I have photographed marine ecosystems all over the world and the Danajon Bank is one of most memorable and complex I have ever seen,” says Thomas P. Peschak, expedition photographer and winner of multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Press Photo awards.
“Amid the vast stretches of badly damaged habitat, you can see an incredible array of species still surviving,” says Peschak. “It gives you an idea of how vibrant and full of life the Danajon Bank once was, and how vibrant it could again be – with the right protection.”
Photos from the expedition will be exhibited at aquariums in Chicago, London, Hong Kong and Manila, and in a planned travelling exhibit for smaller communities in the region. Visit danajon-bank.tumblr.com for photos and blogs from the expedition. Follow @projectseahorse and @ilcp on Twitter for future updates.