By Mary Grace Catapang
Published 2019 – From 1st Semester 2019 Issue
Advocating for the environment while taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, over a hundred Ateneans, primarily composed of BOX members, participated in the Marine Rehabilitation – a flagship project of Ateneo BOx that aims to promote biodiversity, bioeducation, and animal welfare through activities like coral propagation, mangrove reforestation, beach clean-up, and surfing lessons — held at San Juan, La Union on November 16, 2019.
The program kicked off with the coral REEForestation at the Urbiztondo Beach, where the participants learned about the significance of coral reefs and the step-by-step process of coral propagation. Although the presence of huge waves prevented the actual coral planting, marine biologist Laura Riavitz promised to propagate 15 more corals whenever condition permits, in addition to the 35 corals that were supposed to be planted during the program.
According to Ms. Riavitz, their process of coral propagation is purely organic and utilizes only four main components: a natural substrate from coral skeleton, live coral fragments, superglue, and a catalyst. Live coral fragments are attached to the substrate using superglue, while the application of the catalyst helps bond the fragment and substrate quickly and aids in dissolving the glue in two weeks. Despite not being able to plant the corals themselves, the participants enthusiastically tried out the initial process of coral propagation.
Literally riding the waves, the participants braved the huge waves at Taboc Beach with the guidance of Certified Instructors from the La Union Surf Club (LUSC), Inc. during the Surfing 101. They were taught the basics, proper techniques, and safety measures needed while surfing.
In terms of blue going green, mangrove seedlings were planted by the participants with the supervision of Celso Jucutan together with the Youth Environmental Society (YES). Mr. Jucutan explained the different species of mangroves, their significance in the marine ecosystem, and the challenges in mangrove conservation. He mentioned that, unfortunately, the area was deforested to give way to the project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
To reduce the flow of wastes comprised mostly of plastics in the marine environment, the participants also led a clean-up activity in the beach area.
This year’s Marine Rehabilitation is the second Ecosurf: a climate change action program launched last year in partnership with Fostering Education & Environment for Development (FEED), Inc.
The project was made possible through the leadership of AVP for Bioactivism Nina Antonio, Project Head Annika Franco, and VP for Advocacy Larry Acuña.