There are several reasons the Philippines is dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient. Among these are the majestic caves attributed to the country’s intense karstic geography. Yet, the study of caves in the Philippines is one of the least explored.
German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), through its Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) Project, took a trip to the southeastern part of the country, in the Municipality of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur Province to do just that. In partnership with the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR- BMB), the Local Government of Hinatuan, University of San Carlos (USC), Filipino Cave Divers (FCD) and PAME Project, a biophysical survey of the Hinatuan Enchanted River Underwater Cave System (HERUCS) was conducted. The results of the study were recently published in the Annals of Tropical Research courtesy of the Visayas State University (VSU), Leyte, Philippines.The
Results from the three sampling stations, each designed to collect water, sediment, and invertebrate macrofauna samples, showed that water phosphate concentrations ranged from 0.10 to 0.52 while the sand was assessed to be fine. More than 40 macrofauna were sighted and four kinds of macroinvertebrates were collected, including bivalves, asterinids, and upside-down jellyfishes.
HERUCS is classified as a wet cave, i.e., it is completely underwater and light does not reach the cave. This condition makes it hard for divers to stay submerged. Nonetheless, it is an equally significant natural habitat and is one of the Earth’s most fragile ecosystems.
This study ushers in another milestone in Philippine karstic study, particularly of the HERUCS, as it establishes a baseline management plan and contributes to the study of Philippine caves. Above all, the study serves as a research foundation of future government initiatives for conservation of underwater caves. #