Boracay Island – a tropical paradise that boasts of fine white sand and clear blue waters like no other. This summer season, it’s the place to see (and be seen in, in my honest opinion. Not the point).
Teka teka, clear blue waters?
The beach usually serves as a beautiful backdrop for turista pictures. Not in our case.
For a better view of what I am talking about, check out this photo.
Our hotel was at the far end of Station 1, where the beach was supposed to be nicer and cleaner. Nope. It was the same gunky green on the whole stretch of White Beach when we visited.
It’s not moss or seaweed. It’s algae. I believe there is a collective Filipino term for all these three – lumot.
Sorry that I make it sound so yucky. I know they are natural, living microorganisms. But you must agree that they affect the aesthetic value of the island, be it positively or negatively. We all have our own preferences. I guess I made it sound yucky for a reason.
Anyway, locals say it’s seasonal. The waters have always been like that during the summer months because there are less waves to wash the algae off the shore. This has been true even before Boracay was overpopulated and commercialized.
You can just stop here and mentally note to book a ticket during the off-peak season next time, or you can ask further – why?
Why is there a lot of algae in the first place? I was with my fellow Biology majors on that trip. We all agreed that the algal bloom could be associated with eutrophication, based on what we learned from our Ecology class. Yehess. The waters seem to be nutrient rich, otherwise the microorganisms won’t grow. They need “good food” too, parang Nido ni Jun Jun. The high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water plus the hot summer sun result to what we call an algal bloom.
So where did the all those nutrients come from? I found out that it is mostly because of the poor sewage system in the island. [Source: Global Coral Reef Alliance] Due to poor planning and development, or maybe even because financial profitability ranked higher than environmental safety in the priority list, the sewage from the residents and tourists are simply dumped into the ocean. That has been the practice ever since. Today, the currents can obviously no longer dilute the nutrients to harmless levels for free.
I’m not writing this to downgrade our very own island paradise. I just want to share my understanding that in the ecosystem, everything is interrelated. I can go on and on about other related topics such as how the sensitive coral reefs are directly affected by the nutrients, or how the sewage could contain disease-causing bacteria that have become tolerant of the salt.
Boracay Island – overdeveloped on the surface, poorly developed below. I hope it doesn’t remain that way.
PS. I heard that a loan has already been given to improve the wastewater management in the island. Good! [Source – ABSCBN News]