Photos of a vandalized live coral in a Philippine diving site recently circulated in Facebook. A group of concerned divers, including Vince Tenchavez, found a set of corals etched with a name — Charlie — and the date. This is similar to vandalism found on cave walls and other sensitive ecotourism areas.
Vince narrated the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the vandalized corals in a FB post, with the hashtag #FindCharlie: “We found these on September 23, 2018 at around 40ft depth at the house reef of Bauan Divers Sanctuary – in an area where my group and the BDS staff are working hard to propagate coral life by building coral propagation units.” To highlight the nature of the damage, we are reproducing one photo of the affected coral, courtesy of Vince Tenchavez.
He ended with this reminder: “To all my non-diver friends who can see this post, you might think this is cool or cute, but it totally isn’t. Doing this stupid thing kills the coral which took decades, even hundreds of years, to grow. So please don’t even think about doing this.”
We echo his reminder. Part of our advocacy to explore and highlight the beauty of the Philippines is the adherence to this basic rule: “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” This is the reason why we are deeply concerned with this story. We will follow the story on #FindingCharlie and see if proper sanctions will be imposed when he is found.