PH marine scientists naidokumento ang 33 bagong tala ng seaweeds sa Kalayaan Island Group

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Isang pangkat ng marine scientists ang nakapagdokumento ng 33 bagong tala ng mga damong-dagat o seaweeds mula sa isang kamakailang ekspedisyon sa Kalayaan Island Group, at iminungkahi na mas marami pa ang malamang na matutuklasan sa hinaharap.

Ang biodiversity ng seaweed sa Pilipinas ay “napakataas” at mayroong pinakamaraming magkakaibang uri ng seaweed flora sa tropical western Pacific, ayon kay Dr. Wilfred John Santiañez ng University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI). Batay sa pinakabagong mga ulat at tala ng herbarium, ang Pilipinas ay may kabuuang 1,079 seaweed taxa. Ito ay binubuo ng mga pulang damong-dagat o Rhodophyta (57 porsyento), berdeng mga damong-dagat o Chlorophyta (25 porsyento), at mga kayumanggi na damong dagat o Ochrophyta (18 porsyento). Sa 1,079 seaweed taxa sa Pilipinas, mayroong humigit-kumulang na 350 species na alam na mayroong halagang pangkabuhayan, sinabi ni Santiañez.

Gayunpaman, sinabi ni Santiañez na ang karamihan sa kaalaman ng mga siyentista tungkol sa seaweed resources sa bansa ay batay lamang sa koleksyon mula sa ilang mga lugar. “Little is known in the Pacific Seaboard, Southern Mindanao, and the Kalayaan Island Group,” sinabi niya sa webinar na inorganisa ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) nitong Miyerkules.

ECOLOGICAL AT ECONOMIC VALUES NG SEAWEEDS

“Seaweeds are habitat to many marine organisms from invertebrates to different fishes. They are at the bottom of the food chain because they are primary producers and they are sources of food to marine invertebrates and fishes, and even sea turtles,” wika niya. “They also have a very significant role in reef formation. They are often overlooked as a component of the reef but they are actually crucial in recurring the substrate from which your corals settle, where coral reefs form. They are very important in aggregating the substrate towards the stabilizing and can act as buffer to a wave action and even storm surges,” aniya.

Mahalaga rin ang seaweeds sa ekonomiya. “They are sources of food in many populations, particularly in the western Pacific. In China, Japan, and Korea, and even here in the Philippines, seaweeds are consumed as food. Among the seaweeds that we consume are the Caulerpa or ‘lato,’ Eucheuma or ‘guso,’ and Phycocalidia or ‘gamet,’” wika niya.

Ang seaweeds ay pinagkukunan din ng mga high-value natural products, tulad ng Phycocolloids, Carrageenan, at Alginate. “Carrageenan in particular is very important in the food industry. It is used as one of the thickening gelling agent in many of our food products. It is one of the major components of toothpaste and some gel ballpens. Production of carrageenan is also one of the major sources of livelihood among coastal population. Particularly, seaweed farming industry is based on Carrageenan-producing seaweeds,” sinabi ni Santiañez.

Noong 2018, banggit niya, ang seaweed production ay nag-ambag ng 13 porsyento sa kabuuang halaga ng aquaculture production sa Pilipinas. Ang produksyon ng damong-dagat ay nagkakahalaga ng P11 bilyon noong 2018 lamang.

Bukod dito, sinabi niya na ang mga damong-dagat ay mahalagang mapagkukunan ng mga pataba, kumpay, feedstock ng biofuel, at mga bioactive compound na ginagamit sa medical at pharmaceutical industries.

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA EXPEDITION

Noong 2019, pinondohan ng DENR-BMB at ng Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) ang isang research expedition upang magsagawa ng survey, at bahagi nito ay upang tingnan ang pagkakaiba-iba ng mga seaweed resources sa Kalayaan Island Group. Pinangunahan ni Dr. Deo Florence Onda ang ekspedisyon ng pagsasaliksik ng Protect-WPSResearch Cruise. Sinabi ni Santiañez na ang collection efforts ay may kinalaman sa mababaw at malalim na pagsisid sa Ulugan Bay, Sabina Shoal (dalawang istasyon), at Pag-asa Island (limang istasyon).

Itinuon ang kanyang ulat sa Sabina Shoal at Pag-asa Island, sinabi ni Santiañez na ang pangkat ng mga siyentista ay nakolekta ang 105 na sample mula sa Sabina Shoal at 391 na sample mula sa Pag-asa Island.

Sinabi nila na inihambing nila ang pinakabagong mga sample mula sa mga koleksyon na idineposito sa UP-MSI herbariums na nagsimula noong huling bahagi ng 1990, “the last time that seaweeds of Kalayaan Island Group were studied.”

“There were a total of 71 species that were deposited at the MSI herbarium, 45 percent are green seaweeds, 35 percent are red seaweeds, and 20 percent are brown seaweeds,” ani Santiañez. “When we looked at our seaweed from the latest collection effort, we were able to identify a total of 95 seaweeds composed of 57 percent red seaweeds, 38 percent green seaweeds, and five percent brown seaweeds,” banggit niya. “In the Protect WPSexpedition, there were a lot of red seaweeds collected primarily because one of the advantages of our current effort is that we were able to go deeper by scuba diving, and much of these red seaweeds were collected from deeper areas,” dagdag niya. Bagaman hindi nakolekta ng grupo ng mga dalubhasa ang mga sample ng 21 naunang naitala na seaweeds, iniulat ni Santiañez na sa 95 na sample na nakolekta, 33 bagong mga rekord ng seaweeds ang naidagdag sa marine flora ng Kalayaan Island Group. Karamihan sa mga bagong tala ng mga damong-dagat ay mga red seaweeds, idinagdag niya. Ellalyn V. Ruiz