Photo by ENF

There is a Crown of Thorns [COT] outbreak in El Nido at present. This was first noticed by coral scientists Emre Turak and Lyndon Devantier during their reef’s Carrying Capacity Study last July 2009. They immediately informed El Nido Foundation [ENF] about the said outbreak.

Upon knowing this, Mayor Leonor D. Corral called for an emergency meeting on July 8, 2009. She formed a group called the “COT Terminators” to immediately address the problem. This team, which she personally led, is composed of divers and snorkelers from El Nido Divers Association [ENDA], Joint Task Force Malampaya [JTFM], Local Government Unit [LGU], ENF, El Nido Resorts [ENR], Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary [PCGA], World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Protected Area Office [PAO] and the community. The LGU allocated a certain amount from the calamity fund for the COT Terminators’ mission. ENF provided boats, dive equipments and thongs.

The Terminators started search and destroy operations at Lalutaya Is. where they collected a total of 3,908 COTs. Mitri Is. operations followed with 5,114 COTs killed. More operations followed at Commando Beach, Matinloc Is. and Tres Marias Is.

On August 26, 2009, Global Environment Facility [GEF]-funded COT guns were tested at Kulasa Beach. ENF facilitated the purchase of those guns that sped up the process of terminating COTs. That day the total number of COTs destroyed leaped to 15,937.

The team now is eyeing Tapuitan Is., Cagbantang Cove and the eastern coast’s reefs with a hope of ending this environmental threat before it was all too late. [Arvin Acosta, LGU].