Sunday, 6 December 2009

Reef Forestation Volunteer @ Anvaya Cove

Last Saturday, we trekked down to Morong, Bataan to volunteer in the Reef Forestation project of Anvaya Cove (with Jiggy and Bettina in left photo).
The project involved seeding or transplanting 79 tridachna giga in the resort's house reef at a depth of 10 to 30 feet in the hope of increasing the marine biodiversity in the area.
There were 24 of us who volunteered including WWF-chief Lory Tan, Ayala Land's Jim Ayala, a mix of professionals, a college student and two Grade 10 students.
Tridachna giga is the largest of all the clam species, measuring over 4 feet and weighing 500 lbs. It has a smooth shell, and usually a lime green mantle, with small blue spots. This highly edible and some believe aphrodisiac bivalve mollusk (think - clam chowder!!) almost became extinct in the mid-1980s due to over harvesting. The UP Marine Institute saved the tridacna giga species by establishing a hatchery and culture station in Bolinao, Pangasinan back then and now, it is the home of some 37,000 clams.
The clams were transported at night in iced sea water containers from Bolinao and arrived in the morning where they were left for a few hours, two to three feet underwater to acclimatize. The clams were tagged with the name of the place "ANV" and a number for recording purposes.
We, the volunteers were divided into three groups of eight divers each representing the three micro reef sites. We were tasked to handle the young ones - these are ten 4-5 year old clams, measuring 31-35 centimeters and I swear, weighed a ton underwater! While the husband and wife team, Louie and Chen Mencias of the Bluewater Consultancy handled the ready-to-spawn, mature size, 10-year old breeders.
Louie said during the pre-dive briefing that that having the giant clams together will facilitate reproduction as they are known as “free spawners.” This means,the breeders simultaneously secrete eggs and sperm (gametes) after which “chance encounter” will occur in open water. The breeders can release around 500 million eggs at one time.
I can't wait to go back and check my clams. I guess the success of this project can only be determined only after a year or two.
Here's a clip of Louie explaining our task:

And an underwater music video by Jayvee:


Romeo Jr. said...

Hey Rosan! nice write up. Koyang said...

Wow Rosan. That looks fun. I just shared your blog post in Facebook and hope more will get the chance to read it.

Great to see folks like you contributing time to make the environment better. Two thumbs up to you and all the volunteers!