|Bolinao Marine Laboratory|
After our brief rest stopover at El Pescador Beach Resort, we proceeded to the Bolinao Marine Laboratory (BML), the official marine station, started in 1983, of the Marine Science Institute (MSI), University of the Philippines.The BML, located 2 kms. from Bolinao town proper, has a main laboratory building (with research lab and classrooms), administration building, staff houses, dormitories and a land-based hatchery. A venue for research work, BML also aims to be a focal point for extension activities involving the municipality and the various communities inhabiting the coast; serve as an educational exhibit center for research activities on marine science; to offer direct service to the local community in the form of environmental education programs and; to assist in the formulation of coastal management plans for the municipality.
At BML, we observed the laboratory’s propagation of the endangered giant clam (Family Tridacnidae), sea urchins and certain species of sea cucumbers through grow out culture and sea ranching. The sea cucumber Holothuria scabra, one of the most expensive if not the most expensive in the market, are, once bred, are then planted in research pens in Santiago Island. Sea urchins (scientific name: Tripneustes gratilla), locally called uni, have been overharvested by fishermen in the 1980s and 90s for the Japanese market. These too are bred, fed with processed sea weeds (sargassum) in a hatchery and re-seeded. BML also does habitat restoration (e.g., coral transplantation) and sets up marine protected areas for coral and sea grass conservation.