*photo credits to dkeats under creative commons license.
The 7,107 islands of the Philippines sit on what some consider the â€œcenter of global marine biodiversityâ€, and more dive enthusiasts are catching on.
With its abundance of wildlife, the Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot in its entirety, one of only a few countries in the world with such distinction. It is also one of six whose waters comprise the Coral Triangle, the richest collection of marine life anywhere on the planet.
Here, the worldâ€™s most diverse array of corals and reef fish â€“ three-fourths of all coral species and over 2,000 varieties of fish, to be exact â€“ populate the sea. Thereâ€™s even more upon closer inspection, as the array of wildlife includes everything from dolphins to crustaceans, sea slugs to eels. The variety of creatures is simply staggering.
While it shares some of this wealth with its neighbors, the Philippines is wonder on its own. In fact, biologists have been finding new creatures here consistently in recent years, both those thought to exist only elsewhere in the world and entirely new species altogether.
Among the more noteworthy marine ambassadors of the Philippines are five species of pawikan (sea turtle) and Sorsogonâ€™s enormous butanding (whale shark). But among macro photographers, the small and often strange critters wandering the sea garner the most attention and intrigue.
With much of the worldâ€™s marine biodiversity housed in the Philippines and the Coral Triangle, collaborative conservation efforts among stakeholders have fittingly stepped up. Challenges posed by pollution, dangerous fishing practices and climate change, among others, remain.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) puts the Philippinesâ€™ marine marvels on show this summer as it hosts the 1st Philippine Dive Seafari. To headline familiarization tours at four of the countryâ€™s top dive spots â€“ Anilao, Bohol, Samal Island and Coron â€“ are top international underwater lensmen Bob Whorton, Robert Yin, Dave Allen and Alex Wu as well as our very own Gutsy Tuazon.
â€œWith this event, we hope not only to establish the Philippines as a world-class marine macro photography destination, but to build appreciation for the beauty and fragility of marine life as well,â€ said Secretary Alberto A. Lim.
Sponsored in part by STI-Tanauan & Lipa, Acacia Resort in Anilao, Batangas, Davao Pearl Farm, Bohol Divers Lodge, Balicasag Dive Resort, Peacock Garden Resort in Baclayon, Bohol, Calamianes Expeditions, Davao Dive Guides Association Sonny Dizon of the Davao City Government, the 1st Philippine Dive Seafari will run from April 25 to May 5, 2011.