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Biologist identifies new coral species

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Dr. Edgardo Gomez, a Filipino marine biologist cited his discovery of four new species of coral during a press conference on the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Conference held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Manila in Quezon City on October 22.

Dr. Gomez, a professor emeritus of University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), currently the coordinator of the Center of Excellence for the Philippines and Southeast Asia under the Global Environment Facility/World Bank Coral Reef Targeted Research Program, where he also serves as co-chair of the Restoration and Remediation Working Group, said the continuous survey of coral reefs conducted in Philippine waters showed about four to five new records of coral reef.

He said that the new coral species was named Leptoseris kalayaanensis, which was found in the waters off Kalayaan islands in 2007.

“The total number of species of corals is increasing. Particularly, more coral diversity is being discovered. If we could turn the reefs to excellent or good condition, we can quadruple the population of the fishes in the country,” he elaborated.

He noted that coastal fisheries are dependent on coastal marine ecosystems, like mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs, which declined this past century.

Several factors like over-exploitation, destructive fishing and pollution contribute to the diminishing marine resources of the country, he further said.

In fact, he cited a previous study showing that typhoon-damaged reef could recover after five years, while reefs damaged by pollution recover much longer and proved to be more costly to restore.