The Heart of Marine Biodiversity: Saving the Verde Island Passage

The area with the most diverse marine life on earth, an area with more documented species than any other place on the planet, is the Verde Island Passage. A ten-mile wide strait in the Philippines, this area lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, an area in the western Pacific Ocean which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

The science behind the discovery of the amazing concentration of marine biodiversity in the Philippines is clear to biologists and non-scientists alike. This global wonder is at risk from numerous threats but conservation effort in the Verde Island Passage showcase the determination to preserve this natural heritage. This program will highlight the discovery of the “center of the center” of marine biodiversity, recent successes in marine conservation in the Verde Island Passage and the need for these efforts to continue.

This presentation will also highlight how the SEA-VIP Institute will use Science, Education, and Advocacy programs to empower local stakeholders to preserve the marine biodiversity resources in the Verde Island Passage.  Come discover the amazing beauty, crucial importance, and delicate fragility of this very important marine corridor.

Kent Carpenter, Ph.D.  is a Professor in Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he teaches Ichthyology and Marine Conservation Biology. He is also Manager of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Marine Biodiversity Unit. His primary research interests include the evolution of marine biodiversity in the Philippine apex of the Coral Triangle. He began marine research in the Philippines in the mid-1970’s as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. His continued research involvement there bears witness to constant over-exploitation of fisheries and marine habitat degradation and the hope in rehabilitation of the rich underwater resources of the Philippines through recent conservation effort.

Robert Suntay is President of the SEA-VIP Institute, a foundation that uses Science, Education, and Advocacy programs to protect the marine biodiversity resources in the Verde Island Passage. He is a member of various marine conservation organization boards including: WWF (Philippines), Studio H20, and the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI).

Robert believes he was a fish in his previous life – which is why he spends most of his time underwater – either free diving and/or scuba diving both professionally and for recreational purposes.  He is an underwater videographer, and he uses his films to help people appreciate the amazing beauty, crucial importance, and delicate fragility of our wonderful underwater world.