This video about the Philippines says about itself:
Explore One of the Most Pristine Coral Reefs in the World | National Geographic
27 nov. 2017
This is one of the world’s most pristine reefs—and one of the most biodiverse.
From the California Academy of Sciences in the USA:
Surprise new butterflyfish from the Philippine ‘twilight zone’
October 19, 2017
A newly described species of brown-and-white Philippine butterflyfish — the charismatic Roa rumsfeldi — made a fantastic, 7,000-mile journey before surprising scientists with its unknown status. Live specimens collected from 360 feet beneath the ocean’s surface in the Philippine’s Verde Island Passage escaped special notice until a single black fin spine tipped off aquarium biologists back in San Francisco. Deep-diving researchers from the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs team — with genetic sequencing help from a parent-son team — share their discovery of a fifth species of Roa this week in ZooKeys.
“We named this reef fish Roa rumsfeldi because, as
Donald Rumsfeld once said, some things are truly ‘unknown unknowns‘”, says senior author Dr. Luiz Rocha, Academy curator of ichthyology and co-leader of its Hope for Reefs initiative to research, explore, and sustain global reefs. “This fish caught us completely off-guard. After traveling from the deep reefs of the Philippines to our aquarium in San Francisco, former Academy aquarium biologist and co-author Matt Wandell noticed a black fin spine that looked different from other known Roa we’ve collected in the past. It was a light bulb moment for all of us.”
Butterflyfish — which sport bold patterns — are iconic coral reef species. Because this group’s taxonomy is relatively well understood, scientists didn’t expect to find an unknown species on a recent expedition.
Roa rumsfeldi and its close relatives are only know to live in mesophotic “twilight zone” reefs — a place where sunlight is scarce and divers with traditional scuba gear cannot safely visit. In the narrow band between the light-filled shallow reefs and the pitch-black deep sea, these little-known mesophotic reefs, located 200 to 500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, are home to fascinatingly diverse and previously-unknown marine life. As part of its Hope for Reefs initiative, specially trained Academy scientists are exploring these relatively unknown frontiers with the help of high-tech equipment like closed-circuit rebreathers, which take extensive training and allow them to extend their research time underwater.
As part of their expedition-driven research, Rocha and his Academy colleagues sometimes collect live fish they believe to be unknown species in order to study their behavior (making for more robust research) and inspire the public to connect with beautiful and unique reef life during aquarium visits.
“Our human bodies are not really compressible,” says Bart Shepherd, Director of Steinhart Aquarium and co-leader of the Academy’s Hope for Reefs initiative, “but fish have swim bladders for buoyancy that can’t make the journey from twilight zone depths to the surface. We gently moved this Roa to a special lightweight decompression chamber designed just for fish, brought it to the surface, and attentively cared for it through the flight back to San Francisco and into our aquarium.”
A family affair
“The team effort between our museum’s scientists and aquarium biologists helped add a new fish to the tree of life,” says Rocha, adding that the collaboration isn’t the only reason this fish discovery feels particularly special. “My teenage son Gabriel helped sequence its genes during a summer internship — his mother and I helped show him how to use complicated genomic processes to take a closer look at the fish’s DNA. This is part of how we prove a species is distinct, and it’s always a pleasure to share that learning with young people.”
Gabriel Rocha, a high school sophomore at the time, helped sequence the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I gene, also known as the “barcode” gene. The process from DNA extraction to amplification and sequencing takes just a few days — an ideal project for short, in-depth internships. After the sequence is obtained, the work moves from the lab to the virtual world: Major online databases contain thousands of sequences of this gene for known species, and are a great comparison tool.
New discoveries and Hope for Reefs
Considered the “rainforests of the sea,” coral reefs are some of the most biologically diverse, economically valuable, beautiful, and threatened ecosystems on Earth. They cover less than 0.1% of the ocean but contain more than 30% of marine species. Coral reefs provide critical habitat to vast marine communities — from the tiny coral polyps that make up the reef’s foundation to the colorful fishes and sharks that live among them. Coral reefs are integral to the livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, providing protection from erosion and generating income through ecotourism and fishing.
In response to coral reef threats, the Academy launched the Hope for Reefs initiative in 2016 to explore, explain, and sustain the world’s coral reefs by making fundamental breakthroughs in coral reef biology; developing new conservation solutions and restoration techniques with partners like SECORE International and The Nature Conservancy; and sharing what we know through innovative exhibits and educational programs.
Every Academy expedition yields new understanding and surprising discoveries, and the public can see new and rare species, many of which have never been displayed in a public aquarium, at Steinhart Aquarium. Explore the great unknown alongside our scientists as they uncover the secrets of our world’s critically important reefs. Visitors to the Academy’s aquarium can take a closer look at many mesophotic marine creatures from around the world — and discover why they deserve protection — in Twilight Zone: Deep Reefs Revealed.
This 2015 video says about itself:
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:
New Film, “Bird of Prey,” Brings the Philippine Eagle Up Close
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has produced a new documentary about the race to save the world’s largest and rarest eagle, the Great Philippine Eagle. Called Bird of Prey, the film is a finalist in the Special Jury category of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Stay tuned for information about how to see the film later this year, through festivals or other venues. Learn more about the eagle and the film.
This video from the Philippines says about itself:
Release of Bamboo Sharks or Chiloscyllium plagiosum in Cala
27 May 2012
A project of the Manila Ocean Park and partners. It is the release of 2nd generation aquarium reared CHILOSCYLLIIUM PLAGIOSUM.
From Brown University in the USA:
To swallow food, some sharks shrug their shoulders
July 18, 2017
Summary: Sophisticated X-ray imaging technology has allowed scientists to see that to keep food moving down toward the digestive tract, bamboo sharks use their shoulders to create suction.
Sharks don’t have tongues to move food through their mouths, so instead some use their… shoulders?
So say scientists who used a sophisticated X-ray movie technology to see, for the first time, that bamboo sharks swing their shoulders internally when they eat.
By pulling their “shoulder girdle” back, the sharks create the suction needed to draw food through the back of the mouth and further into the digestive tract, said Ariel Camp, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and lead author of the research published in Proceedings B, a Royal Society journal.
“They have this long pharynx, and they have to keep food moving down it,” Camp said. “We think this is part of a ‘hydrodynamic tongue.’ Sharks and fishes that don’t have a tongue control the motion of fluid within their mouths to manipulate food.”
That means bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) use their shoulders, composed of a U-shaped girdle of cartilage and various attached muscles, for feeding as well as to control the front-most fins for locomotion, wrote Camp and colleagues from Brown, the University of Alaska at Anchorage and the University of Illinois.
To make the observations, Camp and colleagues used a technology developed at Brown called X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM). The system combines CT scans of the skeleton with high-speed, high-resolution X-ray movies, aided by tiny implanted metal markers, to create precise visualizations of how bones and muscles move within animals and people. In the study, the team used XROMM to watch three bamboo sharks feast on pieces of squid and herring.
Bamboo sharks are among several species of shark (and many other fish as well) that use suction to slurp up prey, for instance out of rocky crevices or the silt of the sea floor, Camp said. By opening their mouths widely and quickly, sometimes using muscles deep in their bodies, fish can create the suction needed to draw prey into their mouths.
But many scientists had suspected that the shoulder girdle played no role in shark suction-feeding. It’s not connected directly to the jaws or anything else in the head. While sharks use their pectoral fins to swim and even to position themselves over prey with something akin to a walking motion, the shoulder girdle was presumed to be still during feeding.
With the XROMM, however, the scientists could see inside the sharks as they fed and measured a surprising swing in the shoulder girdle of all three sharks tested. Just a fraction of a second after the mouth closed, the cartilage quickly rotated backward (from head to tail) by about 11 degrees.
Though this study only involved bamboo sharks, Camp said she suspects that other suction-feeding sharks also move their shoulders in this way. She further hypothesized that the research may help scientists inch toward answering the question of how the shoulder girdle evolved in sharks, and other fish, in the first place. The way fish skeletal structure evolved, for instance, can help explain how some creatures eventually became capable of making it to land.
“The girdle shows up [in the fossil record], around the time that jaws evolved,” Camp said. “We aren’t sure exactly what structures it evolved from or how that happened. Part of understanding that history is understanding what were the functions this structure had to carry out.”
Apparently it was eating as well as moving.
In addition to Camp, the paper’s other authors are Cheryl Wilga of the University of Alaska at Anchorage, Bradley Scott of the University of Illinois and Elizabeth Brainerd of Brown University. Wilga and Scott were at the University of Rhode Island when they collected the XROMM data at Brown.
The National Science Foundation (grants 1655756 and ISO1354189) and the University of Alaska at Anchorage funded the research.
See also here.
This video says about itself:
18 May 2017
Evolutionary biologist Giacomo Bernardi describes how he and his graduate students discovered a new species of damselfish (Altrichthys alelia) in the Philippines. The parental care behavior of Altrichthys is unusual. Among the hundreds of species of damselfish, only a few protect and care for their young. Most coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae.
From the University of California – Santa Cruz in the USA:
New coral reef fish species shows rare parental care behavior
Among the hundreds of species of damselfish, only a few protect and care for their young; a newly discovered species raises the number from three to four
May 18, 2017
Summary: The vast majority of coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae, drifting with the currents before settling down on a reef. A few reef fish, however, keep their broods on the reef, protecting the young until they are big enough to fend for themselves. On a recent trip to the Philippines, researchers discovered a new species of damselfish that exhibits this unusual parental care behavior.
The vast majority of coral reef fish produce large numbers of young that disperse into the ocean as larvae, drifting with the currents before settling down on a reef. Giacomo Bernardi, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, studies reef fish that buck this trend and keep their broods on the reef, protecting the young until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
On a recent trip to the Philippines, Bernardi and his graduate students discovered a new species of damselfish that exhibits this unusual parental care behavior. Out of about 380 species of damselfish, only three brood-guarding species were known prior to this discovery. Bernardi’s team had gone to the Philippines to study two of them, both in the genus Altrichthys, that live in shallow water off the small island of Busuanga. On the last day of the trip, the researchers went snorkeling in a remote area on the other side of the island from their study site.
“Immediately, as soon as we went in the water, we saw that this was a different species,” Bernardi said. “It’s very unusual to see a coral reef fish guarding its babies, so it’s really cool when you see it.”
Genetic tests on the specimens they collected confirmed that it is a new species, which the researchers named Altrichthys alelia (Alelia’s damselfish, derived from the names of Bernardi’s children, Alessio and Amalia, who helped with his field research). A paper on the new species was published May 18 in the journal ZooKeys.
Parental care dramatically improves the chances of survival for the offspring. According to Bernardi, less than one percent of larvae that disperse into the ocean survive to settle back on a reef, whereas survival rates can be as high as 35 percent for the offspring of the Altrichthys species. Yet the parental care strategy remains rare among reef fish.
“It’s a huge fitness advantage, so why don’t they all do that? There must also be a huge disadvantage,” Bernardi said.
One big disadvantage is that the young are unable to colonize new sites far from the home reef of their parents. As a result, brood-guarding species (the technical term is “apelagic” species, because they don’t have a pelagic, ocean-going phase) tend to occur in highly restricted areas, which leaves them more vulnerable to extinction.
“I suspect that species evolve this strategy regularly, and they are successful until there is some change to the local habitat, and then the whole population gets wiped out,” Bernardi said. “These are very fragile species. The Banggai cardinalfish is one that was discovered just a few years ago in a small area in Indonesia, and it’s already on the endangered species list.”
This video says about itself:
The Magnificent Philippine Eagle Nesting in the Wild
23 January 2014
This is a rare video of one of the most critically endangered and least photographed raptor in the world feeding its eaglet. This is the first time that an organization namely the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines, Inc. was authorized by the government through the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR to document this majestic eagle.
12 Apr 2017
Former drug users turn conservationists to save the Philippine Eagle
Former drug users, indigenous people and conservationists form an unlikely team for the noblest of causes: restore the forest where the Haring Ibon lives. And it’s a success.
By Albert Balbutin & Luca Bonaccorsi
Drug addicts, members of the Dumagat ethnic group, and local conservationists. It is rather eclectic, this bunch of people crossing the River Dupinga. The locals know the river all too well, and fear it. It brings water and fish, life really, if the weather is good. But with copious rains it quickly turns into a merciless killer with flash-floods and mudslides.
We are in Luzon, the largest and most intensely populated island of the Philippine archipelago (roughly half the land area of the UK but with the same population).The Dumagat, one of the Philippines’ Indigenous Peoples who call the forest their home, were once hunter-gatherers and nomadic. With the forest offering less and less they live now impoverished, often thanks to small jobs with lowland dwellers.
The drug users belong to the group that has accepted to change their way of life. Here, in the midst of the highly controversial war on drugs” that has seen an escalation in illegal killings and death squads, they call them “surrenderees”.
The conservationists are members of the Haribon Foundation (BirdLife in the Philippines) and worship this place since it’s one of the last habitats of the majestic Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi (Critically Endangered).
It’s in the name of the charismatic “King of the Birds”, Haring Ibon, and its forest, and thanks to the intervention of the local government of Gabaldon, that these three very different groups of people have come together.
Their mission? Get the “drug surrenderees” to plant high-value fruit trees not too far away from where Philippine Eagle sightings have taken place as part of their community service.
And in order to plant mango, rambutan, guyabano, langka, and coffee, as well as native trees such as narra and duhat, the forest knowledge held by the Dumagat, and the conservationists, is much needed. “Forest restoration is what Gabaldon needs. It is an investment that could save the future generations of the municipality”, says Sam Manalastas, Community Organizer for Haribon.
For months now Manalastas has been working with Dumagat members and other sectors in the town of Gabaldon to come up with a Critical Habitat Management Plan. The plan involves five years of conservation actions to help protect the Haring Ibon of Mt. Mingan, which lives not too far from the fast-growing municipalities in the lowland areas of Gabaldon and San Luis in the Aurora province.
“By planting trees,” adds Manalastas, “they are helping not only the biodiversity of Mt. Mingan, but also their municipality in becoming resilient against climate change.
”As the present administration’s war on drugs continues in many areas of the country, the public remains divided on what to expect. With killings still taking place, some groups support the call to arms against drugs and the crimes associated with it, while others declare it an assault to human rights and the judicial process.
The trek to the planting site is not the easiest one: a river to cross, rough terrain, steep hills. Puffing and panting up a grassy hill, the former addict is probably having second thoughts about his “healthy rehab”, but then he smiles at the view and pushes on. By the end of the day, their foreheads wet with honest work, mission is completed. For the local government the initiative sends a strong message: the area is safe.
For the Dumagat a good pay, the recognition of their forest wisdom and a step towards inclusion. For drug users a chance to change life (and get home safe). For conservationists a small contribution to the health of Mt. Mingan, home to the King of the Birds. The most obvious of win-wins. Conservation has done it again.
This video says about itself:
Comfort Women Survivors Protest Against Japanese Prime Minister’s Visit
12 January 2017
Some surviving comfort women in the Philippines rallied on Thursday to protest against the Japanese prime minister’s visit to the country, asking for apology and compensation for the crimes the Japanese invaders committed against humanity during World War II.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Friday 13th January 2017
Left-wing umbrella group Bayan, which is among the organisations supporting the “comfort women,” said Mr Abe’s trip was not a mere “social visit.”
Comfort women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the second world war.
Bayan said: “The visit of the Japanese PM is another step to slowly establish its military presence” through regular naval port calls and joint military exercises with US forces.
“Japan wants to flex its military muscle in the region as a junior partner of the US. It has passed security legislation that goes against the spirit of its peace constitution.”