By Anita Gardner, Atelier Aquatic
Photos: Atelier Aquatic
The Philippines is situated at the apex of the Coral Triangle, the epicenter of global marine diversity. Sibaltan is on the east coast of Palawan, located on the shores of the Sulu Sea, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The Sulu Sea, as with many seas in the Philippines, is an area of extreme natural beauty, containing essential marine habitats including extensive colonies of reef-building corals and high levels of marine biodiversity, including species such as the Reef Manta Ray, Manta alfredi.
As part of a COVID-19 lockdown collaboration with Dive Sibaltan, Atelier Aquatic requested special permission from the local government to deliver Reef Check EcoDiver Training and conduct reef surveys in the area, which is currently under threat from destructive fishing practices. The group was a mixture of local and international marine biologists, conservationists, divemasters and instructors. Local divers were supported by the Malampaya Foundation to develop skilled reef monitoring teams here in Palawan.
Atelier Aquatic is a small NGO offering Reef Check EcoDiver training to local groups to support community capacity building and marine conservation initiatives, especially important in lockdown times whilst marine tourism is inactive. The aim is to inspire community engagement through outreach and education into marine conservation action. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.