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Newly discovered 'bubble shark' part of Philippines' rich, threatened biodiversity

MANILA--This creature has a humble moniker but it's part of the Philippines' wondrous wealth in marine life. It's called the “bubble shark” (because it can puff up to twice its size when threatened), and it's a brand-new species discovered only last year in the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor (VIPMC).

“It's a wonderful sign,” said Lynette Laroya of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. “It's a good indication that we have good diversity, and ... that perhaps there are a lot of species that have not been discovered out there.”

The VIPMC, which runs between Batangas and Mindoro, stretches over more than a million hectares. The 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, mounted by scientists from both the University of the Philippines and the California Academy of Sciences, found a treasure trove of marine life there that had not been documented before, including over a hundred possibly new species. “We still keep finding new things,” an American researcher said.

Indeed, the Philippines is one of only 17 countries classified as “mega-diverse,” hosting 70-80 percent of the world's biodiversity.

But this fabulous natural wealth is also one of the world's most endangered, with all sorts of mishaps and predators coming together to inflict the most damage. Whether on land (deforestation brought about by illegal logging, resulting in flooding and extinction of certain animals) or at sea (damage to our coral reefs or overfishing, to name a few), the destruction continues.

Even our most high-profile natural treasures are being damaged. In January, a U.S. Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, inexplicably ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, destroying precious living corals.

The U.S. government eventually decided to break up the Guardian and extricate it from the protected area section by section, with the last part finally removed in March.

May 6, 2013    brazilian_wildlife@
And in the meantime, the shark fin traders of Hong Kong and mainland China are wiping out sharks around Asia and everywhere else in the world’s oceans for the benefit of a few and the despair of hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on healthy shark populations. Recreational diving, for instance, employs a thousand times more people than the shark fin industry, and mostly in developing countries. Concerned people should unite to tell our governments to ban this absurdity!
May 9, 2013    megman187@
Unfortunately for the environment (esp that of the ocean) the human species is both the answer and the cause for what's happening to the "Blue Planet" however, doing nothing is so much easier.

We are reckless in our lame efforts to save anything but money.
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