Expedition team releases photographs of threatened double-barrier reef

A rare double-barrier reef in the Philippines is facing grave threats and urgently needs increased protection, according to new photographic evidence released today by a team of marine conservationists and photographers organized by Project Seahorse, a partnership of the University of British Columbia and the Zoological Society of London.

One of only six double-barrier reefs in the world and home to nearly 200 threatened species, Danajon Bank is an evolutionary birthplace of fish and other species found all over the Pacific ocean. Currently, 500,000 people depend on it as a source of food and income. As a result, the region is coming under increasing human pressures, including overfishing.

“Project Seahorse has helped establish dozens of small marine protected areas in Danajon Bank over the past two decades,” says Amanda Vincent, Project Seahorse Director and Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation at UBC. “But the world needs to see the state of this ‘centre of the centre’ of marine biodiversity and help establish a marine reserve for the region.”

The team from Expedition: Danajon Bank today unveiled first photographic proof of the region’s biodiversity and destruction. The expedition was a partnership with the International League of Conservation Photographers.

NB: Photos from the expedition are available at www.projectseahorse.org/danajon-bank-photos. Due to the time difference, members of the expedition are available upon request from Manila from 5-9am PDT, April 15. Please contact Tyler Stiem at +63.921.503.5395 or t.stiem@projectseahorse.org. Expedition scientist Amanda Vincent is also available from Vancouver at a.vincent@projectseahorse.org or 604.827.5137.

“I have photographed marine ecosystems all over the world and the Danajon Bank is one of most memorable and complex I have ever seen,” says Thomas P. Peschak, expedition photographer and winner of multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Press Photo awards.

“Amid the vast stretches of badly damaged habitat, you can see an incredible array of species still surviving,” says Peschak. “It gives you an idea of how vibrant and full of life the Danajon Bank once was, and how vibrant it could again be – with the right protection.”

Photos from the expedition will be exhibited at aquariums in Chicago, London, Hong Kong and Manila, and in a planned travelling exhibit for smaller communities in the region. Visit danajon-bank.tumblr.com for photos and blogs from the expedition. Follow @projectseahorse and @ilcp on Twitter for future updates.

BACKGROUND | EXPEDITION: DANAJON BANK

Additional quote:

Nicholas Hill, expedition scientist, Project Seahorse and the Zoological Society of London

“The challenge, here and all over the world, is striking the balance between human need and ecological protection. We’ve made conservation gains, but it’s not enough. If we don’t scale up protections soon, it really could be too late to save the reef. And if the reef disappears, the communities that depend on it will struggle to survive.”

Funding and partners

Expedition: Danajon Bank benefits from the generosity of major sponsors Interface and Guylian Belgian Chocolate as well as from conservation partnerships with Zoological Society of London and John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

The expedition team also includes world-renowned photographers Luciano Candisani, Claudio Contreras Koob, and Michael Ready. Project Seahorse co-founders Amanda Vincent (UBC), Heather Koldewey (ZSL) and Nicholas Hill (ZSL) are scientific advisors.

Project Seahorse

Project Seahorse is an award-winning marine conservation group based at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Zoological Society of London. Project Seahorse works to protect seahorses in order to support ocean conservation more broadly, generating cutting-edge research and using it to inform highly effective conservation interventions. Project Seahorse benefits from a marine conservation partnership with Guylian Belgian Chocolate and John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago. For more information, visit seahorse.fisheries.ubc.ca or www.startanevolution.ca/projectseahorse.

International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP)

iLCP’s mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The non-profit’s programs are built on the participation and contributions of its 100+ Fellows, an elite group of the world’s top wildlife and nature photographers who, in addition to displaying remarkable photographic skills, have each demonstrated a deep commitment to conservation efforts around the globe.  iLCP’s Conservation Photography Expeditions have been covered by National Geographic (most recently as the cover story of the August 2011 issue), Outside Online, American Photo, The Guardian, ABC Nightline, Huffington Post, Tree Hugger, and numerous blogs that cater to people who care about the world we live in and the conservation challenges it faces. For more information, visit www.ilcp.com.