Project Baseline (PB) Mactan-Cebu is the first in the Philippines. In 2011 we began collecting periodic observation photos of underwater dive sites and data such as water temperature and visibility as a way of tracking changes in the health of our precious underwater environments. Our local goal, in line with PB’s overall objective, is to use these observations in establishing a global database of baseline measurements that not only promotes environmental awareness but also provides an objective starting point for corrective political action and policy formation and evaluation. The significance of global conservation efforts such as Project Baseline is comparable to saving the Amazon rainforest. Experts agree that the Philippine’s underwater environment is the world’s blue water version of the Amazon River basin. According to the 2005 Carpentera & Singer report, “The Philippines is not only part of the center but is, in fact, the epicenter of marine biodiversity, with the richest concentration of marine life in the entire planet.”
Cebu is unique because most dive spots in the country are away from cities. Cebu is the center of commerce in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Oldest in the Philippines and often called the Queen City of the South, Cebu City is the largest city in the island. Among the main tourist areas around Cebu are the islands of Bantayan, Badian, Malapascua, Camotes and Mactan where many high end resorts are developing. Mactan island, just East of Cebu city, is particularly important because of the large number of beach resorts, and numerous diving opportunities. Many people come here to learn to scuba dive among the coral reefs, underwater wrecks and caves. Because Cebu is the Philippines’ most densely populated island, there is a continual and growing threat of environmental degradation, both on land and underwater. PB’s underwater surveillance helps document environmental damage as well as areas of recovery.