by Ryan Dave P. Taping
Murcielagos Bay is rich with marine resources. The provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental are blessed with the abundance of marine life.
In fact, fish shellfish, and other marine resources have reached other provinces as far as Cebu, Misamis Oriental, and Davao.
However, these marine resources are facing a very alarming condition. Various scientific researches of the academe., the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Bureau of Fisheries, and the Department of Science and Technology revealed that there is a high mercury contamination in the bay which increases beyond the tolerable limit for sea water which is 2ppb.
This is because of the small and large scale mining in Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte.
In the study conducted by Georgina Fernandez, some edible marine mollusks found in the bay contained mercury which exceeded the tolerable limit for seawater.
A group of students of Misamis Occidental National High School (MONHS) conducted a relevant study to determine the coverage of the mercury contamination in the bay.
In 2008, Christmae Maxine P. Solon, together with her teammates, conducted a biomonitoring of mercury contamination in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental. The purpose was to determine if the contamination has reached the area. The study revealed that "Amahong" in the selected sites contained mercury. Thus, the contamination has reached as far as Baliangao.
Relevant study in 2010 was again conducted to validate the contamination of the bay. In that year, meiofauna or the loosely defined animals which served as food to juvenile fishes were used. Frances Gabrielle Conol Reyes, with her team members, revealed the result of the study that sediments and the meiofauna contained high mercury.
Minda News in 2010 reported that Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Northern Mindanao issued an advisory prohibiting the buying, selling, and consuming of shellfish in the areas covered by the bay considering the paralytic poison the shellfish contained that is beyond regulatory limit.
Is there a cure to the ailing bay? Will the people be able to restore the bays bountiful marine resources and save the people whose form of livelihood is from the bay?
Kevin Joe B. Miranda (2011) found out that Mangrove, locally known as Bakawan, has the ability to pytoremediate the contamination of the bay. This is based on the result of his study.
What is the truth behind the ability of Mangroves to help cure the bay? This calls for a better study. If there is one thing that we need to celebrate, it is that we have finally found that last frontier of Murceilagos Bay.