They swim 13.5K to save marine life

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

NASUGBU, Batangas, Philippines – A small group of open water swimmers and nature advocates Sunday swam the Hamilo Cove to promote the protection of the Verde Island Passage (VIP) while conveying to the public the need for the conservation of the country’s coral reefs.

Atty. Ingemar Macarine, considered environmental hero by the World Wide Fund for Nature, along with Frank Lacson, Betsy Medalla, Julian Valencia and Moi Yamoyam swam about 13.5 kilometers of open waters in an event dubbed as “Reef Strokes” that started and ended at the Hamilo Coast and Pico de Loro Cove here.

The event was also held to celebrate the World Environment Day (June 5), World Ocean’s Day (June 8) and Coral Triangle Day (June 9) while highlighting the dangers of plastic pollution and climate change on the VIP, considered the center of marine shorefish biodiversity with an impressive record of 319 species and 74 genera of hard coral.

The VIP, located between Batangas, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, and Romblon with Hamilo Coast as its apex, is also the world’s epicenter of marine life, abundance and biodiversity.

This is why these brave bunch of swimmers are doing all they could to preserve and protect VIP from environmental harm.

“As a swimmer who regularly swims in the open water, I am disheartened each time I encounter floating garbage,” said Macarine, an election officer back home who was met by his family when he reached the shore.

“We swim to remind everyone that we need to act now to protect our marine resources,” added Macarine, who will leave for London early next month to swim the English Channel.

WWF-Philippines has been around for almost a decade to assist Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club and Pico Sands Hotel in various environmental programs, including Reef Strokes.

“Coral reefs give millions of people food and livelihoods,” said WWF-Phl president and CEO Joel Palma. “However, they are threatened by plastic waste, which smothers corals. Climate change effects such as global warming also lead to coral bleaching, turning once-productive reefs into graveyard reefs coated by algae.

“Reef Strokes shows how our collective ‘strokes’ will take us to the finish line, which is a world where productive oceans continue to gift Filipinos with food, jobs – the very air we breathe,” he added.

Cebu Pacific has also joined hands with WWF in conserving coral reefs while working to protect both the Tubbataha Reefs and Apo Reefs since 2008.         

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