Apo Island - Marine Sanctuary and Tourism

Marine Sanctuary and Tourism

Apo Island is one of the world's best known community-organized marine sanctuaries, and as such it has been well documented by the global science community. The project was started when Dr. Angel Alcala, a marine scientist from the Silliman University Marine Laboratory explained to the local fishermen the importance of creating a marine sanctuary in the area. Initially, there was hesitation on the part of the locals; but after a 3-year dialogue, Dr. Alcala was able to convince the island community to establish the sanctuary. Assisted by the staff of the SU Marine Laboratory in 1982, the local fishermen selected an area along 450 meters of shoreline and extending 500 meters from shore as the sanctuary site. Since then, the project initiated on the island led to the creation of hundreds of other marine sanctuaries in the Philippines.

At present, the island is home to over 650 documented species of fish and estimated to have over 400 species of corals. Most of the Philippines' 450 species of coral can be found here, from tiny bubble corals to huge gorgonian sea fans and brain corals. Visitors and tourists pay a fee to enter Apo Island and to snorkel or dive in the marine sanctuary there, these fees are used to keep the sanctuary clean and in good condition.

In 2003, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium opened a Wild Reef exhibit based on Apo Island's surrounding reef and marine sanctuary. In 2008, Sport Diver Magazine listed Apo Island as one of the top 100 diving spots in the world.

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