Typhoon “Odette” has damaged critical habitats on Danjugan Island and in its marine protected area in southern Negros Occidental, Dave Albao, executive director of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. (PRRCFI), said Friday, January 14.
The area around Danjugan Island in Cauayan town comprises a 444-hectare marine reserve, including more than 100 hectares of core “no-take” sanctuaries, he said.
The island and its marine sanctuary is under the care of the PRRCFI that promotes awareness on biodiversity protection by means of ecotourism.
The marine sanctuary is protected by legislation because the reefs are critical for fisheries to be able to recover, and for many other ecological and economic values, Albao said.
“Our scientists, seasoned divers and guides who were able to inspect the damage after the typhoon passed, have all said that based on what they have seen so far, some reefs were unrecognizable,” Albao said.
“The entire marine protected area was affected by typhoon Odette. Shallow reefs were decimated by the forces of the typhoon,” he said.
Danjugan’s favorite snorkeling spots are damaged. Many coral colonies were uprooted. The vulnerable giant clams have to be inventoried because they could have been translocated by natural forces, Albao said.
Significant changes in the reef created rubble ridges, he added.
The assessment of the extent of the damage is still being put together by their science team since after the typhoon the priority was clearing of debris and crowd funding to sustain relief and rehabilitation efforts, he said.
On top of that, visibility underwater and strong Amihan monsoon winds, waves and currents are making it difficult to study the exact state of the reef, he added.
“Our science team will release more specific data once the sea conditions improve,” Albao said.*