The Philippines and its 7,000 islands provides an ideal environment for all kinds of marine life, including many species of lobsters. Lobster, an expensive item, is known locally as banagan. Although an ancient species, new species are still being discovered, with a major find occurring in the Philippines in 2007.
The Philippine Coastal Environment
The Asian country of the Philippines is comprised of more than 7,000 islands, surrounded by waters that run as deep as 12,000 feet. These sprawling waters are home to diverse marine ecosystems and commercial fishing endeavors, including lobster farming and fishing. Seafood contributes up to 70 percent of Filipinos' protein intake, and the commercial lobster industry is an important Filipino livelihood. Fishermen farm several species, and retrieve their wild or farmed catch using bottom gill nets.
Common Lobster Species in the Philippines
Common Philippine lobsters include tiger, bamboo and adik-adik lobsters. Tiger lobsters are recognized by their spotted legs, while the legs of bamboo lobsters have stripes resembling bamboo trunks. The adik-adik lobster's reddish-colored back is its defining feature. Tiger and bamboo lobsters are the most common, especially in the Philippines' lobster farming industry. Wild lobsters also inhabit the Philippines' waters. Some of these wild species recently were discovered off the coast of at least two of the country's islands.
New Lobster Species Found in Philippines
In 2007, a wildlife expedition by the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project found a new species of more than 1,200 varieties of lobsters and crabs -- known as decapods -- off Panglao, a small Filipino island. The same year, a new species of lobster was found off Luzon, another Philippine island. This lobster, Dinochelus ausubel, was so distinct it was placed in its own species and genus categories. Recognized by its large, long spiny claw, Dinochelus ausubel is commonly known as Ausubel's mighty claw lobster.
Challenges to Lobsters, Fishermen and Farmers
Despite its natural capacity for wide biodiversity and lobster species, the Philippines' natural resources are suffering overfishing, pollution and overpopulation. These factors are leading to reduction in water quality, fishery habitat loss and species imbalance. These stresses are in addition to the country's existing vulnerability to cyclones, coastal storms, typhoons and other natural disasters, according to the One Ocean website. This site states that from the Philippines’ 50 major fishing grounds, 11 are overfished.
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