PANGLAO, Bohol – This island, comprised of Dauis and Panglao towns, about 15 kms south of capital Tagbilaran City, and its surroundings seawaters are considered by experts as the country’s “center of hotspots” in the country because of its rich marine biodiversity aside from being the gem in tourism with its world class dive sites and powdery white sand beaches. And its rich marine biodiversity awes the International Conference of Fossil experts held here for the first time. The gathering of experts dubbed INA15 (International Nannoplankton Association Conference).
The experts said that they have discovered “new species of invertebrates,” Dr. Alyssa Peleo-Alampay, head organizer of the event, said during a press conference held at South Palms, one of the posh beach resorts. The island is also considered as geological and marine laboratory that becomes the envy of other countries, she said. Dr. David Watkins, a participant of the conference and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said of the discovery, “I never saw like these before. Please preserve them.”
The conference, the 15th ,held March 7-16, 2015, the first in the country. It is held every two years since 1985. “The Nannoplankton Laboratory of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of the Unviersity of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City is the host after winning the bid over other groups from United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, the organizers said.
The INA Conference gathers scientists worldwide, who have interest in living or fossil calcareous nannoplankton. Calcareous nannoplankton are single-celled plant-like organisms (algal protists) living in the world’s oceans since the Triassic Period (more than 200 million years ago). Reseaches about these organisms are presented at the INA Conference by academic and industry scientists through oral and poster presentations.”
INA held conference in Yamagata, Japan in 2010 and Reston, Virginia in 2013 is hoped for the country’s scientists “to engage in the world’s scientific advancements and the growing positive reputation of the Filipino scientist.
The waters off here serve as hosts to a total of 150 to 250 new crustacean species. Some 1,500 and 2,500 new mollusk species were discovered in the area based on the survey of Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project in 2004.
The area covers some 15,000 hectares that produce 1,200 species plus of decapod (10-footed) crustaceans and some 6,000 species of mollusks. The finds of the study are more than what the 300-million-hectare Mediterranean Sea has — “340 species of decapods and 2,024 species of mollusks.” (rvo)