THE 500-hectare marine sanctuary in the northern Cebu town of Medellin is under attack by a coral predator known as the Crown of Thorns (COTs).
Giles Anthony Villamor, Medellin’s Planning and Development coordinator, said they discovered the presence of COTs in the Ticad Marine reserve in July.
Villamor said that during an exploratory dive in July, divers found more than 50 COTs in less than 500-square-meter area at Station 1 of the marine reserve.
Station 1 covers one hectare of the marine reserve.
He said based on standards, the presence of 30 COTs in one hectare is already considered an outbreak.
The Ticad Marine Reserve comprises the three barangays of Tindog, Canhabagat and Don Virgilio.
“COTs are predators of corals. An outbreak should be controlled.
Otherwise, we will lose the rich corals at the marine sanctuary thereby leading to decreasing fish population,” Villamor told SunStar Cebu.
He said they are conducting clean-up operations at the Station 1 of the marine reserve.
Divers are using the vinegar solution (70 percent vinegar and 30 percent water) to kill the COT. Divers inject 25 millimeters of the solution per COT.
Villamor said overfishing of COT’s known predators like the Giant Triton Snail, Humphead Moari Wrasse, Starry Pufferfish, and Titan Triggerfish may have caused the outbreak.
Villamor said the COT outbreak at the one-hectare Station 1 is now under control but few COTs are noted in nearby areas.
He said Department of Tourism (DOT) diver Renlie Castillo, Philippine National Police Maritime divers, and members of the local Bantay Dagat are helping the town in the COT cleanup.
He added that they welcome other diver volunteers to help them in the COT cleanup.
Interested divers can call Villamor at 09173076656 for the COT cleanup. (MVG)