These shots were taken during several dives in Bohol and Coron, Philippines. Seeing the life and ecosystems here serve as a reminder of what we stand to lose if we do not start taking action to preserve our oceans. #chasingcoral
I think a lot of times when people see coral reefs or other marine life, we tend to just see them as pretty parts of nature to take photos of and move on. What we rarely do is highlight the incredible importance of these ecosystems and what they contribute to our world.
So, why are coral reefs important? Interestingly, coral reefs only cover a fraction of 1% of the earth's surface, which is a really tiny area! Yet, the reefs support at least 25% of all marine animals by providing shelter to many species, especially for juveniles that will eventually go out into the open ocean. At least 500 million people rely on coral reefs for food and resources. Coral reefs also help bring in billions of dollars in revenue from tourism and fisheries, as well and provide tens of thousands of jobs around the world. Coral reefs are also natural barriers from damaging storms or waves that would otherwise damage coastlines; some areas are estimated to save hundreds of millions of dollars in would-be damages. Many species of coral are also being researched for medicinal purposes, some that are even able to battle cancer.
This is just a short list of the importance of our coral reefs and how much we rely on them. Unfortunately, we are taking them for granted and it is having adverse effects. In the last couple decades, an estimated half of the coral reefs have already died and even more are under threat. The Florida coast has lost half of their reef systems and in 2016, 2/3 of the shallow reefs in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia had bleached or died. Even while in Cambodia while snorkeling off of Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, the shallow corals were all bleached. Factors including global warming, pollution, overfishing and coastal developments are putting enormous stress on these now fragile ecosystems. If we don't do what we can to bring awareness to these incredible natural wonders, then it won't be long until we lose our coral reefs and everyone/everything will suffer more from those losses.
So next time you're on a coral reef, be sure to take more pictures, learn about it's importance and spread the word! #chasingcoral
I'm amazed at the various sizes, shapes and colors that coral are able to form. What does this one look like to you?
Everything in our oceans plays a vital role in ensuring our ecosystems stay healthy, even if some parts are less heralded than others. This bizarre looking creature in this photo is a variety of sea cucumber, a sausage looking animal that slowly moves around the ocean floor. Despite its unimpressive appearance and sluggish ways, the sea cucumber has the important role of a vacuum cleaner, cleaning the ocean floor of waste and recycling those into nutrients for the ocean floor. They are also essential for maintaining ideal conditions around the reefs, something that few people understood about the sea cucumber. Unfortunately, there are cases now showing that overharvesting these animals for food are having detrimental effects in those ecosystems. The good thing is the more we understand the roles of the creatures that inhabit our oceans, we can make better decisions to protect these these habitats to keep the oceans healthy.
I wish I could tell you which species of coral this is but there are over 2,500 species of coral! Most corals are soft corals while about 1,000 species are hard corals for building reefs. What makes a coral truly amazing is that it's actually a colony of millions of tiny animals, called polyps, which most have plant cells in their body that generate food! Remarkably, corals can also survive for several thousand years, though technically under ideal conditions, they can live forever!
In the ocean, there are many examples of symbiotic relationships, or relying each other in order to survive. This photo taken off Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines captures perhaps the most recognizable relationship: the clownfish and an anemone. The clownfish is immune to the anemone's stinging cells, thus gaining protection from predators. In return, whatever the clownfish eats is digested and excreted out as food for the anemone. It's one of the many harmonious relationships that contributes to healthy communities beneath the ocean surface.
I've always loved scuba diving and exploring the worlds beneath the ocean but it's only recently that I've been working on my underwater photography and videography. It's a challenging field to work on compared to what I've done but yields incredible opportunities to see and reveal what happens in our oceans. This shot is a healthy coral reef in Coron of the Philippines. There are many species of coral that come in different colors, shapes or sizes. They are the foundation of vibrant communities of marine life and are incredibly important to our survival too.
Scuba diving has been my favorite activity whenever I travel. I love exploring the underwater worlds that lie beneath the ocean since there is so much we don't see or know. Now, more so than ever, I feel the need to scuba dive wherever we go because many of these worlds and the species that occupy them are under threat as a consequence of our destructive habits. My hope is to continue to show the amazing and beautiful communities that inhabit our oceans and be able help preserve these worlds, not just for future generations to enjoy, but to also signify the importance of healthy oceans that are vital to our own survival.
Chocolate Hills is a remarkable geological landscape in the Bohol Province. It is comprised of at least 1,260 cone or dome-shaped hills spread out in 20 square miles. In the dry seasons, the hills turn brown, thus giving its name.
Thanks to reforestation, we can see life grow to amazing heights. Without it, there would be nothing to look up to.
Deforestation is major problem our planet faces. The global population and many species of animals rely on the world's forests for food, resources and keeping our air clean. However, we are cutting trees down faster than they can grow and, in many cases, ecosystems are destroyed from deforestation. The Bilar Man-made Forest in Bohol is an example of what we can do to combat the issue. This area experienced severe deforestation until a reforestation project was put in place. The result is 2 kilometers of thick, lush forest of mahogany trees that grow up to 50 feet tall. We need more projects like this that preserve our natural resources and our ecosystems.