Verde Island Passage
Verde Island Passage is a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea beyond. It is one of the busiest sea lanes in the Philippines because it is the main shipping route between the Port of Manila and the Visayas and Mindanao in the south. Also many ferries navigate the waters, connecting the surrounding provinces of Batangas, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon.
The eponymous Verde Island, located right in the center of the strait, is one of the best diving places in the Philippines due to its pristine clear waters and nice under water view. Daily trips for scuba divers are made from Puerto Galera.
The wreckage of a Spanish galleon that sunk in 1620 was found in the southern part of this passage. It was heavily salvaged in the late seventies and again in the early 80s. Nothing remains of the wreck except for a few shards of porcelain and some larger pieces of terracota jars. The keel was removed to Puerto Galera for conservation. The conservation was not properly carried out and the remaining timbers were left to rot at a depth of 6 meters in front of Sabang Beach.
Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity
A team of marine conservationist declared in 2006 that the Philippines is the Center of Marine Biodiversity in the world and Verde Island Passages as the "Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity".
Many threatened species which include sea turtles like hawksbills, olive ridleys, and green turtles; humphead wrasses, giant groupers and giant clams are present in the Verde Island Passage. However, there are no enforcement of ordinances and over-fishing is common. A short-lived 'park fee' scheme for the Verde Island drop-off dive site was soon dropped when it was discovered that the revenue was being used to buy better fishing gear and hence removing fish at a higher rate. Humphead wrasses are especially threatened and divers often go years without spotting a single individual. It was particularly noted the rare red fin wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis) thrives in Verde Island.
The area has more than 300 species of corals, which is considered one of the largest concentrations of corals in the country or even in the whole world. Coral health is generally good, though the effects of global warming and increased pollution, may still lead to drop in diversity. The Verde Island passage is located next to Batangas Bay which is rapidly becoming a major refining and petrol chemical center in the Philippines. Until now, no infrastructure is in place to contain a major oil, or chemical spill.
- gmanews.tv/video, Born To Be Wild: Verde Passage – 31 January 2008
- abs-cbn feature, Verde Passage: Abundant life beneath the water