"The Rape of Boracay" Boracay Island by edwinic

Boracay Island Travel Guide: 1,637 reviews and 4,695 photos

The Algaes of Boracay

Depending on the amount of nutrients and the amount of grazing by fish and sea urchins, a wide variety of algae can proliferate, ranging from low turfs to dense mats of vegetation which smother and kill corals.

Recent work shows that nutrients are the major control on algae abundances, and reducing nutrients is the only step effective in cleaning up reefs. Certain species of algae have been identified as indicator species for high nitrogen or for phosphorus.

In particular, proliferation of slimy mats composed of cyanobacteria (also called blue green algae, although they come in several different colors), are often an indicator of high sewage inputs or of unusually elevated phosphorus to nitrogen ratios. In many places in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean we have been able to identify sites where sewage is soaking into the sea from the distribution of cyanobacterial mats.

Algae abundance and types are a far more sensitive and visible measure of the health of the reef with regard to sewage contamination than the concentration of coliform bacteria, and allows the early signs of deterioration to be identified and corrective measures applied to avert contamination before reefs die and people get sick.

The water was turbid

The rubble is largely covered with fuzzy brown and green algae growth made up of fine filamentous algae and cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) on which young corals cannot settle and grow. Sand patches between the rubble fields are also covered with cyanobacteria mats.

Large numbers of algae eating black long spined sea urchins (Diadema setosum) are present, but appear not to be able to control the algae overgrowth of the hard bottom. Towards the shore there is a sand belt which is largely covered with slimy brown patches of cyanobacterial mats, which appear to be growing on nutrients which are percolating from land through the sandy beach. The water was turbid.

Boracay has a beautiful beach which unfortunately shows classic signs of the impacts of uncontrolled and excessive development in advance of developing sewage treatment infrastructure needed to protect its natural beauty. While existing data indicates that water quality is generally adequate for bathing, it is episodically unsuitable, especially at the peak of the tourist season when the beach is calm, and rainfall is low.

The ecological observations show significant impacts on nearshore and eastern reefs, but western reefs are still in good shape. Protection of the good reefs and restoration of damaged areas will take time once water quality is improved, but that nutrients will need to be reduced to below coral reef eutrophication levels first.

At present the island has little or no suitable sewage treatment for a coral reef area. Most of the resident population of around 10,000 people disposes of their sewage directly into pits in the ground or into surface drainage, which soaks directly through the porous sand and limestone into the sea. While some hotels have septic tanks this is not sufficient to solve the problem. First, there are no facilities to pump out the tanks, so they fill up and the excess flows into the groundwater. Secondly, building extra chambers is not a solution, as the bulk of the nutrients generated by decomposition of wastes go into solution and are not removed in the tanks and are discharged into the ground in the overflow.

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  • In a nutshell:Please save Boracay by not contributing to its already overloaded system
  • Last visit to Boracay Island: May 2009
  • Intro Updated Feb 2, 2010
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Reviews (10)

Comments (9)

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Stunning tips, I am in awe with your honest waitron. Hope you do not mind me asking, but if you want to return ratings, please visit my Prague page? The link is Hlavni Mesto Praha Things to Do Tips by mvtouring. Thanks ;-)

  • ibel's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    ive seen a site like that in kiwi dive resort siquijor island. algaes appear during hightide and when dried up people cleaned the beach. but siquijor is not polluted as boracay. but true that the sewage system in boracay is poor

  • cyndymc's Profile Photo
    Mar 12, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    Very incisive assessment of pollution in Boracay! There must be political will to regulate mushrooming of resorts w/o proper sewerage...I was in Boracay this weekend, fortunately, the waters weren't that green with algae, konti lang sa Station 1.

  • judayandryan's Profile Photo
    Feb 28, 2010 at 11:37 PM

    totoo ba ito? kelan pa ito?

  • Moira126's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    It's sad to hear what Boracay has come to. I used to visit it years ago when it took a long and tiring jeepney ride from Kalibo on rough roads covering us with dust. It was very beautiful then -- maybe because it was so difficult to get to.

  • Gillybob's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2009 at 5:36 AM

    Interesting insights into this island. Hopefully I'll get there, one day. Gillybob greetings

  • f8stop's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2008 at 2:38 AM

    i have to agree about the vendors in puka beach... their persistence could sometimes test ones patience. i guess the trick is to handle it with a smile and just to be firm in saying no :)

  • sirenna's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2007 at 3:01 AM

    P60 - P100 for snorkeling fees? They really are getting cheeky! It should cost only P20 per person, and ask for a ticket! Sadly the money doesn't go towards protecting the reef, it's just a coastguard sponsored scam.

  • Wild_Orchid's Profile Photo
    Aug 24, 2006 at 1:19 AM

    nice to meet you. yes, I wish I had seen more of Phils too, but I was on a biz trip. maybe another time! :)

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