Republic of Boracay vs. Algal Bloom
People noticed an ugly sight of green seaweeds or green moss along the long-stretched White Beach in Boracay.
Did it kill its beauty? Was there malice? Was murder committed?
Bloom pleaded not guilty.
The appearance of these greens alienated many tourists. Boracay’s White Beach now looks uninviting with its discoloration. Fewer people are frolicking in the waters since nobody wants to dip and touch the slimy greens in the near-shore area.
But before putting blame on these green organisms thriving by the beach, it is important to fully understand why this is happening.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Algal Bloom, or the sprouting of these green organisms, which are aquatic green algae (not seaweeds, seagrasses or sea moss) play a significant role in the coastal ecosystem. Being at the bottom of the food pyramid, green algae provide a source of food, energy, and shelter for zooplanktons and tiny fishes.
Now here’s something noteworthy.
Another key function that green algae play deals with their ability to absorb waste nutrients and heavy metals such as ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate which can be traced from inadequately treated sewage—a result of human interference.
That being said, Bloom (green algae) are actually doing us good by taking up toxic elements from the aquatic environment, rendering the waters less harmful.
The real intention Bloom (green algae) resides temporarily and seasonally is to warn us that Boracay is now ‘too rich’. That is nutrient-rich with green algae. It has accumulated a wealth of waste nutrients making the waters look dirty and polluted in the eyes of many beach-goers.
So the truth is:
Green algae exist to free the waters from aquatic pollution. By soaking up waste nutrients in the shallows, green algae are helping us keep the seawater healthy and clean.
Don’t let appearances fool you. You have to uncover the real intention. There was no evil intent, hence no murder was committed.
Not Seaweeds, but Green Algae alias Algal Bloom.
There are no grounds to declare Bloom as persona non grata. It is only a case of mistaken identity.
What was under scrutiny are not seaweeds, seagrasses, or green moss but green algae—which are organisms that are neither a plant, animal, or fungi.
Green algae (Algal Bloom) belong to Kingdom Plantae, but they are structurally different to be considered as real plants because they lack true roots, stems or leaves.
These green algae also do not fall under the classification of animals because they are not multicellular and are not held by a specific protein called collagen that is found exclusively in animal tissues.
Instead, green algae are made up only of a single cell, so they are biologically classified as protists or unicellular organisms. They may look like plants and are commonly mistaken as seagrasses or seaweeds, but that is because they are able to photosynthesize, a key characteristic of plants. Green algae have highly diverse chloroplasts giving its green color.
Nature works in mysterious ways. White Beach filed for a short vacation to be with Bloom.
• Dismissed due to insufficient grounds.
• White Beach filed another petition for emergency leave.
• Petition granted. It is a right, not a privilege. White Beach has health issues due to ecological reasons (stressed or disturbed coastal ecosystem).
So who is the true murderer? Judge well. It is still beautiful and sometimes mysterious. 🙂
On a different note:
In the meantime, let’s take a look at another beach creature.
Let me introduce lugworm (sandworm), a predator and scavenger species that exists under fine sandy beaches like Boracay.
Lugworms populate at low intertidal zones where they feed on organic material such as microorganisms and waste nutrients found on sands. Once the nutrients are digested, they expel the sand sediments, producing a distinctive worm cast which is fondly called as fecal mound.
What’s fascinating is that ecosystem engineering can be done with the high presence of lugworms: they can drift and recruit other organisms (green algae, juvenile bivalves). With the combined forces, they can change the beach landscape features.
You won’t find many lugworms visible at the beach because they lurk under the sands. Some fishermen and fishing enthusiasts dig into the sand for lugworms to use as a bait.
Boracay is now rich with waste nutrients causing greenish discoloration of the near-shore waters. This is due to overtourism, beach ecosystem disturbance, and climate change. Global warming triggers ocean acidification making the environment adequate for green algae to thrive and proliferate.
In this case, green algae including sea grasses, diatoms, and soft corals are declared as ‘winners’.
While the ‘losers’ are shells, oysters, scallops, sea urchins, sea stars and reef-building corals, and ‘maybe’ the fishes, shrimps and crabs said Yoshihisa Shirayama, the Executive Director for Research of Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. He presented their research studies during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) meeting held in Boracay. The meeting’s agenda focused on environment, tourism, and marine and coastal protection.
As a consequence of the abundance of waste nutrients in Boracay, Algal bloom or green algae sprouting which occurs during February to June, covering the summer months when it is overcrowded. This is only seasonal and the beauty of its world-renowned White Beach with turquoise waters will be back by September.
On another story, Bulabog Beach, an area at the other side of Boracay island known for water sports activities like kite surfing, was reported to be with above normal concentration of coliform bacteria (E. coli). The mushrooming of hotels and establishments with poor sewage disposal system in the area caused the high presence of this harmful bacteria. However, the rest of Boracay is still safe for swimming.
With this alarming phenomenon, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is conducting an inventory of resorts and other establishments to check waste water management compliance.