Beautiful Beaches, Empty Reefs
The next day, we had only to sail about 5 miles south before we passed a small craggy island off the main island of Coron with another beautiful beach. In a lazy mood and with plenty of food and water in reserve, we opted to hang out for the day on the island.
Again, this island was almost deserted. One fishing boat drifted along the reef with a guy spearfishing from it. The beach was clean white sand, and jagged limestone rocks to give us protection from the sun.
It was a bright sunny day. We all went out to snorkel, and I swam around to the ocean side of the island, keeping my eyes open for box jellies and sharks, neither of which appeared.
The Philippine islands are in the middle of the ‘coral triangle’ and should be home to the most diverse marine life on earth. But on this reef, same as the ones we’d snorkeled on in the days before, I was struck by the lack of fish. In all my time, I only saw one fish of any size… possibly a trigger fish as it darted for cover. One eye looked at me and it clearly knew that this human floating on the surface was it’s most feared predator.
I learned to dive many years ago in the Philippines on reefs crowded with fish. But out here, in the unmanaged wild, there was much less to see. Coral seemed to be in good shape, although in places you could tell where the reef had been blown apart by dynamite. But where were all the fish?
I saw somewhere that the Philippines has 35,000kms of shoreline. I don’t know what rules are in place to protect them, but it seems there are a lot of fishermen to cover those 35,000kms. This is something I would like to learn more about.