Spectacular marine life proliferates in Padre Burgos artificial reefs

Padre Burgos Artificial Reefs
Bamboo artificial reefs in Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte now offers a visual feast of marine life (image: Rio E. Cahambing)

A recent documentation dive revealed that bamboo artificial reefs in Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte now offers a visual feast of marine life, fourteen months after 76 modules were launched off Barangay Poblacion, this town.

These once-bare bamboo artificial reefs have become rich haven of fish, corals, invertebrates, and many other marine organisms.

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76 modules of bamboo artificial reefs were launched in Brgy. Poblacion, PAdre Burgos in May 2015 (Photo: Rio E. Cahambing).
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Padre Burgos artificial reefs after more than a year (Photo: Rio E. Cahambing).

Such spectacular transformation testifies to the fact that artificial reefs need not be so expensive and sophisticated, and that locally-available and eco-friendly materials, such as bamboos, can become productive and useful in propagating marine life in the most natural way possible.

The concept echoes the vision of Scaph Pro Philippines, a French-based NGO, recently established in Padre Burgos, with Michael Levett as President and Jean-Francois Marailhac as its Vice-President and Technical Director. The group is now implementing its second year of Operation Green Reef, an effort to rehabilitate or re-establish marine ecosystems using artificial reefs.

Additional 24 modules were also recently launched, making a total of 100 modules for Barangay Poblacion, Padre Burgos. Several new modules are also being launched in the adjacent barangay of Cantutang.

As of the last assessment made late last year, 146 fish species and 124 species of invertebrates were identified in the site. However, with the recent documentation dives done this late July, the number of species is expected to rise as soft and hard corals, as well as fish and invertebrates continue to colonize and congregate within the artificial reefs.

Padre Burgos Artificial Reefs
As of the last assessment, 146 fish species and 124 species of invertebrates were identified in the site, and still growing (image: Rio E. Cahambing)

A noticeable increase in schooling pelagic fish intrusions were also observed. Schools of fusiliers, long-nosed emperors, jacks, spade fishes, mackerels, and other reef predators are now becoming frequent sights—an indication that the whole artificial reef site is fast becoming a productive marine ecosystem.

More photos below…

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The project is a cooperative undertaking of Scaph Pro Philippines and the municipal government of Padre Burgos with the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte extending technical advice and support.

Scaph Pro Philippines is willing to consult with other local government units interested to undertake similar projects in their respective municipalities in Southern Leyte.

(Text and Photos by RIO E. CAHAMBING)


Rio Cahambing was one of the first few local divers to extensively explore the waters of Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte. Back in 1993, he was involved in the implementation of the Fishery Sector Program (FSP) which aimed to rehabilitate 12 major bays in the Philippines, including Sogod Bay.

One of the major tasks is the establishment of fish sanctuaries in the bay municipalities. Today, many of these fish sanctuaries have become popular dive sites in the province, like the Napantao Fish Sanctuary in San Francisco.

In May 1996, Rio’s local team, together with GuenterMosch, explored the whole island of Limasawa, and established the island as one of the prime dive areas in Southern Leyte. Mr. Mosch eventually established the Southern Leyte Divers.

Mr. Cahambing is presently involved in marine resource enhancement initiatives in his home province, such as the establishment of artificial reefs and more recently, coral transplantation projects. (EDS)

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