Just when everyone thought that Manila Bay – especially those parts near the megaregion that is Metro Manila – is beyond rehabilitation, we see evidence of marine life that say otherwise. Case in point is the number of sea anemones found on the shores of the Tanza Marine Tree Park (TMTP), a mangrove enrichment area maintained by the DENR National Capital Region located in Isla Pulo, Barangay Tanza, Navotas City.

Sea anemones, sometimes called the ‘flowers of the sea’, are marine animals closely related to corals and jellyfish. Like corals, some species of sea anemone live in association with hermit crabs, small fish, or other animals to their mutual benefit. This relationship, accordingly, also benefits us, humans, as they often result in larger and healthier fish populations.

Sea anemones are often part of a thriving coral reef community, although this is not the case with those found on the shores of TMTP.

Incidentally, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of DENR conducted an inventory of the coral ecosystems within the Manila Bay Area (MBA) in 2019. The study found out that many coral reefs are surviving in Manila Bay despite numerous environmental and human pressures.

Jose Isidro Michael T. Padin, ERDB’s Supervising Science Research Specialist, however, clarified that nearly 72 percent of the surveyed reefs are found in Cavite. “The reef sites in Maragondon and few on Corregidor and Caballo Islands had fair to good live coral cover, but these reefs are continually threatened by sedimentation, nutrient contamination, reduced water clarity, and high fishing pressure,” Padin said.

While the coast of Metro Manila—which extends from Navotas City to Las Piñas City—does not boast of any thriving community of coral reefs, the fact that sea anemones and other aquatic animals are found on its shores gives DENR National Capital Region’s Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan reason to be hopeful on the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“DENR and other partner organizations have been recording a lot of previously unseen wildlife in Manila Bay”, Director Caancan disclosed. “This makes us excited as it says a lot of what we have been doing to the cleanup and rehabilitation of Manila Bay”, she added.

“Admittedly though, we are a long way from our target of making the waters of Manila Bay compliant with class SB standards. But we are confident that, slowly and with the help of other stakeholders, we can do here in Manila Bay what has been done in Boracay”, Director Caancan said.