Marine Biodiversity? RP is Center of Center


‘The Philippines is recognized as having the most spectacular diversity of life to be found anywhere on the planet’ – Coral Cay Conservation (8 September 2005, Is that right?

‘RP chosen center of marine biodiversity’ says the headline of an ABS-CBN News dated 14 October 2006 but today, 18 October 2006, when I google and click on the link, this comes out: ‘The article you are requesting could not be found.’ (In any case, chosen is not correct – declared is more like it.) I try Netscape, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer one after the other and I get the exact same result. What’s the matter, ABS-CBN, you don’t believe your story?

You better believe it!

The World Wide Fund is also mistaken about where the richest marine life is found, but it’s not far from the bull’s-eye. In its Sulu-Sulawesi report (, it says:

Nowhere in the world can one find a richer variety of coral reef, plant and animal life than in the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas. Surrounded by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the seas contain about 450 species of coral (compared to only 60 in the entire Caribbean). The Sulu Sea’s Tubbataha Reef, with corals covering more than 81,000 acres, is the heart of coral diversity for the region.

Not quite.

If the international WWF and the local ABS-CBN Online are not the reliable news sources they want you to believe they are, they are not the only news sources, so I go to the Philippine Star (, which carries the article of 8 June 2006 by Katharine Adraneda:

Some 100 scientists have declared the Philippines as the world’s ‘center of marine biodiversity – not the Great Barrier Reef off East Australia – because of its vast species of marine and coastal resources, according to the World Bank.

Is that right? Not exactly. I don’t know where Ms Adraneda got her 100 scientists. In fact the original phrase in the report reads ‘the Great Reef Barrier’ and not ‘the Great Barrier Reef.’ I have 3 windows of Windows open, and I’m also reading Online the 2005 issue of the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes volume 72, pages 467-480, where Kent E Carpenter and Victor G Springer have published the paper titled ‘The center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity: the Philippine Islands.’ (The image above is from that paper.) So, the Philippines is not the center, but it is the center of the center. The Indo-Malay-Philippine archipelago (IAMPA) is the center. Not ‘marine biodiversity per se, but marine shore fish biodiversity. And not according to the World Bank but according to the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes. The World Bank report, ‘Philippine Environment Monitor 2005’ is only a secondary source.


Exactly where is this center of center? Carpenter & Springer identify ‘a peak of marine biodiversity in the Central Philippine Islands and a secondary peak between peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra.’

Now, are we Filipinos protecting the fantastic marine wealth of life that we have? Certainly not! We give them hell: dynamite, cyanide. We make all kinds of excuses to over-fish. We believe in the idea of optimum sustainable yield (OSY) from underneath the seas, but we believe more in the OFWs – overseas Filipino workers.

Not quite right.

Carpenter & Springer state plainly: ‘Special attention to marine conservation efforts in the Philippines is justified because of the identification of it as an epicenter of biodiversity and evolution.’

The Philippines is already the epicenter of ethnic diversity: we have about 100 tribes in the islands. We won’t be the epicenter of marine diversity for long if we don’t watch out.

The photo below was taken by Yvette Lee of Coral Cay Conservation, a journalist and conservationist. She reports:


Time and time again, I have observed that good coral cover and health fish populations occur only in places where there are actively monitored MPAs.

MPAs are marine protected areas. Coral Cay reports success in conservation arising from the Southern Leyte Coral Reef Project, an initiative of the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte, in partnership with the Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc and Coral Cay Conservation, a British organisation.

Ms Rosette Y Lerias is Governor of the province. We should all be learning from this lady from Leyte.

Explore posts in the same categories: Biodiversity, Center of biodiversity in the world, Marine biodiversity, World center of biodiversity

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