A glimmer of hope for Manila Bay?

Manila Bay is not dead, at least not yet.

Scientists from De La Salle University and University of the Philippines Manila measured the acidity level of the water in Manila Bay and found that it is still low enough to sustain marine life. And in case the acidity increases, whether naturally or from human activities, Manila Bay can still absorb its impacts to preserve life. This is according to their paper published in the Manila Journal of Science.

When a body of water becomes more acidic, such as when more carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere, certain compounds in the water absorb the effects of acidification and allow life to survive. This is called acid neutralizing capability (ANC).

“[T]he coastal waters of Manila Bay have enough buffering components to resist acidification,” the authors said in their paper.

I don’t know much about marine biology or chemistry, so I asked my friend Marianne Saniano, a marine biologist from Oceana Philippines, about the effects of acidification to marine life.

“If the water becomes more acidic, organisms like shellfishes will die. These has serious consequences to the food chain and the marine ecosystem. Not only that, the reproductive system of fishes will be affected and they will not be able to produce eggs,” she explained. I guess good thing then that Manila Bay still has enough ANC to protect from acidification.

Most of people don’t know this, but Manila Bay is actually a spawning area for many species of fishes, including ones that we eat. In fact, it used to be considered as one of the main fishing grounds in the country. That’s probably not the case anymore, as fewer fishes are caught within the bay because of the deteriorating conditions of its waters.

Although the study had limited scope, the authors did recommend that more studies be conducted, it still shows that there is still hope for the marine ecosystem in Manila Bay. But we have to act fast, or there may be nothing left for the future generations.


Sumalapao, D.E.P., Cruz, L.L.A., Cua, S.K.N., Dauigoy, H.V.G. and De Leon, E.A., 2016. On the pH and Acid Neutralizing Capacity Profile of Manila Bay Coastal Water Samples in Manila, Philippines.

About the photo: The iconic Manila Bay sunset; the sun sets behind Mt. Mariveles, a volcano in the Bataan Peninsula.

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