May 2011 Archives

Island News Updates


From coral reef cures to climate change lawsuits, there have been many recent happenings in the world of islands. Read on for summaries of island news...

Medical Cures in Coral Reefs?

Among the many reasons to protect coral reefs--including the staggering biodiversity these "rainforests of the sea" contain, and their increasingly endangered status around the world--an unexpected boon from reefs may be their burgeoning contributions to the field of medicine. From anti-inflammatory drugs to sunblock, coral reefs already provide compounds for many medical products, and scientists believe they likely hold many more. Read this Grist interview with two doctors who are studying the role coral reefs may play in the health of humans--as well as the oceans.

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A diver on a Seacology trip explores a coral reef. Photo by Sylvia Earle. 

Good News from Cabilao, Philippines

Last year, Seacology funded a project on Cabilao Island, in the Philippines, to help protect the local coral reefs and marine ecosystems. Our project included a 50-acre extension on an existing marine protected area in exchange for funding to renovate an antique lighthouse, to be used as a display facility for locally produced handicrafts. Our Philippines Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo recently returned from Cabilao with an update on the community's work. They have finished the renovations, and are continuing to monitor the MPA and increase their handicraft market. Read Ferdie's fascinating blog post for details about our Cabilao Island project.


The newly renovated Cabilao lighthouse. Photo by Ferdie Marcelo. 

 Federated States of Micronesia Intervenes Over Climate Change

Scattered across the South Pacific, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an island nation that includes the states of Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, and Pohnpei. Comprised mostly of small, low-lying islands, FSM is already experiencing some of the devastating effects of climate change, which will only increase in the years to come. But at the Threatened Island Nations Conference held last week in New York City, FSM detailed the legal action it took in January 2010 against a large power station in the Czech Republic, on the grounds that the plant's pollution contributed to the climate change that was harming island nations like FSM. Although the Czech court did not end up agreeing with FSM, it has taken some steps in response to FSM's plea for action against climate change. Read more about this precedent-setting case here.  

A recent 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka ravaged the nation's people, leaving 22% of families without income and 38% of youth without schools. The war also resulted in substantial destruction to coastal swamps and the native mangrove ecosystems. But a new exhibit organized by our affiliate, Seacology UK, showcases the natural beauty of this struggling country--as well as the great fortitude of its people.

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Seacology's Field Representative in the Philippines, Ferdie Marcelo, maintains a blog documenting his experiences working to conserve the rich natural resources and ecosystems in the Philippines. His most recent entry discusses the threat of slash-and-burn farming on the country's Palawan Island.

Often called the Philippines' last ecological frontier, Palawan's rich biodiversity is very impressive but also so very fragile. Yet for the month of April this year alone, in northern Palawan alone, the burning of swathes of mountain slopes was a near daily occurrence. Plumes of smoke could be seen from surrounding mountains signaling slash and burn activity. It was as if a concerted effort to destroy the island's capacity to support life is being waged.


As school years wind to an end, you may be starting to plan summer vacations. This year, make your summer travel as earth-friendly as possible, with these helpful green travel tips:

  •  Travel of any kind--cars, planes, or even trains--creates carbon emissions that add to the harmful greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, increasing the negative effects of climate change. Reduce your impact by donating to a carbon offset fund. Seacology's Carbon Offset Fund supports alternative energy and reforestation island projects to offset your carbon emissions.

  • If you are visiting a coastal area, make sure to bring your sustainable seafood guidelines, which list which species are overfished and endangered and which are safe to eat. 

  • ARKive species - Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
    Above, bluefin tuna, one of the most endangered fish species. 
  • Reduce plastic waste on your trip by bringing along a reusable water bottle and reusable bags.

  • Endangered species can sometimes turn up in meals or souvenirs--you don't want to accidentally bring home a keychain from a loggerhead sea turtle! Familiarize yourself with the world's most endangered species with the color photos and detailed information on

  • ARKive species - Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
    Above, a loggerhead sea turtle. 
  • Get inspiration for exciting trip destinations at, a Seacology supporter and leading travel website.

  • Consider joining Seacology on our upcoming trip to Chuuk, where we will explore underwater coral reefs, shipwrecks, and visit a Seacology project site. Picture2.jpg
    Above, the rainforest Seacology is protecting on Fefen Island in Chuuk.