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Impact of Ship Building on Subic Bay Coral 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 10 months ago
Impact of Shipbuilding on Subic Bay Coral
By Nate Eyestone


Description and Rationale

Subic Bay is a bay full of historical significance and natural beauty.  Home to many species of water dwelling animals, Subic Bay brings tourists there to swim with its whale sharks and to dive its many wrecks.  With a rich military history spanning the Spanish-American War, through World War Two to the Vietnam War, under water shipwrecks and planes, Subic Bay attracts a large number of the Philippines’ scuba diving tourists.  It is also home to many Filipino workers and families.  Much of the income is made from tourists who want to come and dive the wrecks that are surrounded by some of Subic’s most amazing animal life.  There are also a large number of employment opportunities in the Subic Bay Free Port Zone.  One of the companies that has a major impact on the local community is a ship building company.  


    This ship building company is in Subic Bay to make use of the massive work force available to help build the world’s largest ship.  The dry docks are a prominent sight on the bay, visible from almost everywhere on the bay.  With plans to build a coal burning electric plant next to the ship yards to supply them with their enormous electricity needs, they will have a drastic effect on the environment and the local economy.  The building of such a plant so close to the bay and ship yards would raise the temperature of the bay past the tolerance point of many species that live in it, killing them or driving them to find a new place to live.  With the death or departure of many of the bay’s fish, local dive shops would be forced to drop several dive sights, or even close shop and go out of business. 


    The purpose of this project is to see if there is a way in which the electrical needs of the company could be met without destroying the bay environment and with it the local economy.  If a low heat, low waste energy source could be implemented in the place of the coal burning plant, the local community would benefit not only from the continued fish and scuba diving industry, but also from the many jobs created in building the power plant, running the power plant, and building the ships it is intended for.  How would these two groups work together to save the environment?  Would any of the organisms in the bay benefit from the addition of heat to the water? I hope to answer all of these in my report.


    To find out what I could possibly do to aid the local people and wildlife of the Subic Bay area, I will research different types of power production and their pros and cons.  I will find out what types of fish and coral will actually be affected if a coal-burning power plant were to raise the temperature of the bay.  I will then interview people from around the bay to learn what impact they feel the power plant and shipyard project will have on their lives.


    I hope to be able to aid the people that the power plant will most directly affect if it is built.  They hopefully will be able to come to a compromise with the company that will benefit everyone.





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Common Names and Synonyms


Zooxanthella is the common name for Zooxanthella Symbiodinnum, a photosynthetic alga that lives in coral.  Many times though, the name Zooxanthella is used in reference to a number of different types of coral dwelling algae. 





Kingdom:         Plantae            (Plant)

Phylum:         Dinoflagellata        (Rotation/ Whip)

Class:         Cryptophyceae        (Hidden Sea Weed)

Order:            Cryptomonadales        (none found)

Family:         Zooxanthellaceae        (none found)

Genus:         Zooxanthella            (none found)

Species:         Symbiodinnum        (Symbiotic)


    Many types of coral dwelling algae have not been classified yet due to the lack of information on these algae. 



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Morphology and Physical Description


 Zooxanthella is a specific type of dinoflagellate that live in symbiosis with coral polyps.  They are single-celled algae that live in the cells of the coral polyp.  The algae live in the cells and use the carbon dioxide that the polyp excretes during respiration as part of its photosynthetic process.  In return the polyp receives oxygen from the algae as the byproduct of photosynthesis.   Most Zooxanthellae are round, and brown in color.  The eukaryotic algae live in the epidermis of the growing coral polyp and give much of the polyps color.





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Getting Food


Zooxanthellae are autotrophs, and need to photosynthesize to get their food.  Their photosynthetic process can provide up to 90% of a coral polyps energy requirements.  Coral only lives in shallow water, where there is enough light for the algae to photosynthesize, and provide the coral polyps energy. If there is not sufficient amounts of light in the water or the temperature is not within the mid to upper 20 degrees Celsius, the algae does not photosynthesize and both the coral and algae die.  Also the water must be relatively clear of small partials and debris to let light penetrate down to the coral polyps.  If the water is not clear enough to let light to the coral the algae will not photosynthesize.


    Photosynthesis --- 6CO2+6H2O ------> C6H12O6+6O2




Zooxanthella reproduces by mitosis.  As the polyp grows and develops, the algae in its cells are divided with it.  Once one of the Zooxanthella divides into two daughter cells, there are two in the polyp cell so when it divides; one goes in each of the new polyp cells as well.  That is how the Zooxanthella stays inside of the polyp throughout its life.


Environmental Factors



The Zooxanthella is very delicate when it comes to the range of temperatures it can live in.  Zooxanthella is only found in water that is in the middle or upper of twenty degrees Celsius.  With an increase in temperature of only one or two degrees Celsius, in five to ten weeks the algae will die and with it kill coral.  Even worse, if the water temperature cools three to five degrees Celsius, in only five days the algae can all die.  These very drastic effects will disrupt the entire balance of the ecosystem. If the coral dies, then the plants and animals that live on the coral die, and the animals that feed on the plants and animals that lived on the reef will die. 

    The algae inside of the coral polyp has no direct predators that this researcher could find, but it is indirectly prey to the predators of the coral it lives in.  Some of these include the Crown Of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci), and two species of the Drupella snail (Drupella cornus and Drupella robusta).




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Origin and Distribution


Through study of the coral and the algae that lives in it, scientists have suggested that the evolutions of the two were not always connected.  Some of the closest forms of the algae live in the least alike corals.  Likewise some of the most similar coral carry the least similar algae.  Throughout the evolutionary process some of the algae must have been transferred to a different species of coral.  As Christians though, the symbiotic relationship between the algae and coral is very explainable.  God created the two to live together and benefit each other. 

    The algae Zooxanthella is found in tropical corals.  This limits its distribution to the waters of the South Pacific and other such tropical waters.  This limit is due to the narrow range of temperatures in which the algae can survive.  It does not live in all forms of corals though.  Deep sea coral and coral found in very cold water are free of the algae.  In deep-sea coral there is not enough light for them to live and be of any use, and in coral found in cold water the algae could not survive the temperatures.


Importance to People



The algae Zooxanthella symbiodinnum has no known direct use for humans.  It does however have the ability to greatly affect them.  Were temperatures to raise more than one or two degrees Celsius in a given area, the food web in that ecosystem could possibly collapse and cause economic recessions and food shortages in small coastal villages.  The poor fishermen who scraped a living from fishing the area would be unable to feed their family.  Local businesses that depended on the fish, such as dive shops, would lose their customers and go out of business.  In that way the Zooxanthella could greatly affect people.

    Several industries depend upon coral reefs to produce their product.  Fishing is one of the biggest dependants of the coral reefs of the world.  With the loss of coral all over the world, many fishing industries are struggling to meet their quota for the consumer market.  Likewise if the coral reefs of Subic Bay were to be destroyed the local fishing community would be hard pressed to gather enough fish to sell or even to feed their own families.


Survivability and Endangered Status

The algae Zooxanthella symbiodinnum is only able to live in water that is in the mid to upper 20’s Celsius.  A small change in that temperature can cause coral bleaching, which is caused by the death of all the algae in the coral polyps.  With the building of the power plant in Subic Bay the temperature will be increased above the range in which the algae can survive and the coral will die.  Coral is on the lists of endangered creatures and is disappearing all over the world at an alarming rate. 



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Potential Solutions


In researching the relationship between the coral of Subic Bay and the effects of industry (specifically the presence of shipbuilding company on the shores of Subic Bay and the additional future presence of a coal burning power plant) it has become clear that much of the information available is politically charged and it is difficult to get at the whole story from any one reliable source.  In an attempt to put it all together, several facts seem clear.  1) The coral of the bay, which contains small algae called Zooxanthella, is sensitive to water temperature and is therefore potentially threatened by the coal plant specifically.  2) The destruction of the Zooxanthella would cause the death of the coral that it lives in.  With the death of the coral would cause a disruption in the food web and or cause it to completely fail.  3) Coal plants produce heat to the water surrounding them thus creating the probability that it will disrupt the surrounding environment. 4) Though many regulations are in place to try to preserve the ecosystem, regulations get violated with devastating effects so the potential for damage to the coral is real.  5) There is a lack of knowledge and information as well and further education seems essential.


    The presence of a 300-megawatt power plant seems to be the biggest threat to the ecosystem in Subic Bay.  A coal power plant of that size, in a year, will burn around a million tons of coal.  The heat produced by the burning of that coal boils water to make steam which then turns a turbine, producing electricity.  In a year, a 300 megawatt plant will use over a billion gallons of cooling water, that is then returned to the body of water nearly 20 degrees fahrenheit warmer than it was when it was extracted, and therefore cause the body of water to become warmer as well.  This power plant in Subic Bay will definitely give many jobs to the people around it, but it may also destroy the bay environment.  Below are three possible solutions to the problem in Subic Bay with their advantages and disadvantages.



Possibility 1


Coral Relocation


    An interesting PowerPoint produced by Wildlife in Need and the Subic Bay Dive Association relates a coral reef relocation project undertaken in 2006 (Appendix A).  From the PowerPoint we learn that this relocation will “observe the requirements of Philippine law and spare Hanjin [the Shipbuilding Company] of heavy penalty” and “this project will give Hanjin and SBMA [Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority] a positive public corporate image of having achieved the largest coral relocation project in the country”.  That could lead one to conclude that the company building the power plant does recognize the threat that their project poses to the longevity of the coral reefs in Subic Bay.  In 2006, a dive team moved several sections of a reef across Subic Bay.  The final results of how that experiment is going have not been released as of yet, due to the length of time (5 years as stated in the PPT) needed to see whether or not the coral would continue to grow in the new location.  Through a series of calls to the Hanjin company headquarters, and many of the dive organizations (several of which who had phones that either did not work or were busy when ever called), it was noted that not many people at the involved associations had heard of this project.  In fact the Hanjin company headquarters was unable to produce a single person who knew of the coral relocation project.  An email and several calls have yet to be replied to by one of the scientific advisors who moved the coral.  In 2011 should the results turn out to be positive, this would be a solution worth continued pursuit.



1. No coral would be killed due to the heat added to the water.  The corals were moved to the far side of the bay from the future power plant.  

2. The scientific community could learn many things about coral from this experiment.  A study of the effects of coral being moved would increase what is known about coral greatly, and in the future other reefs could be saved by similar coral relocations.

3.  If coral relocation became a reliable way to save coral, reefs all over the world could be moved for various reasons.



1. According the power point, 4,000 dives would be needed to successfully move all 10,000 m2 of the reef.  That would use an extraordinary amount of time and money to finance the project.  Hundreds of divers would be needed to make the dives and it would still take a very long time.

2. Moving the reef to the other side of Subic Bay would only delay the death of the coral.  To successfully protect the coral from the temperature increase it would be necessary to move it outside of the bay to where the water will not change temperature as much.  That on the other hand would most likely have its own set of difficulty’s and hazards.  

3. Places that do not have coral already growing there are usually not suitable for the growth of coral.  




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Possibility 2


A. Wind Power:


    Man has used the power of the wind for centuries.  From the early sailing ships to the windmills of Holland, they have harnessed its power to make jobs possible.  Today many cities in the United States have started to look into clean ways to power their homes.  One way that has proven quite effective is wind turbines.  On a windy day a modern wind turbine farm can produce as much as the average 300 megawatt coal power plant. 



1. Wind power is clean and efficient.  A concentrated group of wind turbines can produce the electrical needs for several neighborhoods.  The turbines themselves do not produce any pollutants such as noise, carbon emissions, or airborne particles.  The collective noise output for a field full of these turbines can usually be heard only slightly, as a faint whisper of the wind whistling around the turbine. 

2.  The land area taken up by the turbines is much less than the air space, and is still suitable for farming and agriculture. 

3. Land prices have been known to go up around areas that use wind turbines.  Some people find the look of the turbines beautiful and some of these turbine fields have become tourist sights. 



1. Wind power fluctuates with the wind.  Some times the turbines will produce great amounts of energy with strong winds, but when the wind is not present, no electricity can be produced.  Therefore they do not have the same reliability as coal power plants.

2. With decreased reliability, wind plants need to have a back up power facility in case of prolonged wind shortage.  Usually this is a coal power plant and they come with all of their own issues.

3. Some wind turbine plantations have been proven to affect the migratory patterns of birds.  Either the birds realize the danger and alter their migration around the wind turbines, or they fly through them and suffer casualties due to rotor impact. 

4. The Subic Bay area does not have any land that is suitable for the building of windmill farms.  It is mountainous terrain and there are very few places that are flat enough that have not already been developed by businesses or is protected as Virgin Forest.  The Subic Bay area is also not naturally a very windy place.  With the unpredictability of the wind there would be no way to ensure that there would always be electricity, and since wind turbines need a back up power plant any way, why would you build two power producers instead of just one. 


B. Wave Power


    Wave power is also a potential solution as a renewable energy source.  In a wave generator the up and down wave action causes floats to turn a drive shaft that run generators.  This approach uses the waves’ endless nature and capitalizes on it.  At certain times, however, the energy produced may be more than at other times, depending on wave size. 



1. The waves will always be there.  There is an endless supply of energy able to be harnessed and used by humans.  The supply from wave generators would be a constant supply given that the electrical lines were in good condition.

2. It cuts down on mining and delivery costs because there is no mining to be done and the waves come to the generator.  The only thing that is needed is to install the generators and floats in a wavy section of ocean, and deliver the power. 



1. They are often considered an eyesore to look at and most people don’t like to have them installed off of their beaches and waterfronts.

2. During storms many types of floating generators get destroyed or damaged. In the Philippines since there are usually one or two typhoons in a year, the turbines and energy capturing floats would be under constant repair.

3. Several types of wave-powered generators are quite loud.  The way that one works is the wave crashes over the side of a holding tank and then once it its full they let it drain down through the turbines.  Waves crashing over the side of a steel tank would be quite loud. 



C. Algae Power


    In a recent article from CNN (Appendix B) Algae was proposed as a potential producer of energy.  Since algae is the fastest growing plant in the world and half of its weight is oil, they can be used to produce green fuels for cars, trucks, and planes.  The US government and several private companies are restarting their research on this energy source. 



1. Algae power has great potential because it is such a fast growing    plant.  The tropics are also one of the best places for plants to grow.

2. Algae can produce several thousand times the amount of biofuel as corn or soybeans.



1. It is still many years away from major use as a Biofuel due to further research needed.



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Possibility 3


Increase Awareness


    As part of this research a small survey was taken (Appendix C). Although the survey was very limited in size, it could be an indicator of a larger trend.  Less than half of the people who took the survey had heard of the project in any way.  Of the ones who had, the vast majority of them were men, very few women had heard of it.  Many of them did not seem to grasp the environmental issue and only thought how great it was that people were going to get jobs.  A basic element in any environmental problem is the education of the masses to the problem.  


    Since the information that is available is not always accurate or is politically biased, I set up an interview with a representative from a non-government organization (NGO) that is building a similar coal plant in the Philippines (Appendix D). In our interview he gave me a great amount of helpful coal power related information along with some government standards and regulations, which according to him are quite adequate to protect the ecosystem. It is his opinion and mine as well that a power plant is not needed in Subic Freeport Zone, but that it is economically advantageous to the power company to build it there due to different rules and regulations for the Freeport zone than for the rest of the country.  The shipyard only needs 20MW of power and the power plant has a 300 Mw capacity so they are definitely not building it just for the shipyard.  I suspect that their target buyer is the entire Luzon grid, which they will be connected to. Subic is also connected to the Luzon grid for power, and could simply buy their power from pre-existing sources.  What is not know is whether the highest standards of compliance for power plant cooling systems (the culprit for increasing the surrounding water temperatures and threat to the Zooxanthella) will be followed due to the possibility of lax regulations in the Free Port Zone.  Only time will tell if this is the case.  Public awareness and education could make a difference in this situation.



1. With increased awareness, the number of people who could become involved increases.  Also with bigger numbers there is also more money that can be generated.

2. Education of the public keeps honest businessmen striving to do better and keeps dishonest businessmen from accomplishing their goals.



1. I am unable to educate thousands of people who do not know the project.

2. To change the value system of a people to include environmental concern would take enormous amounts of time and resources and may be impossible.


Biblical Rationale


Since a Biblical worldview encourages good stewardship of our resources, working towards economic progress and conservation of the created beauty of our world should always work together.  Needless destruction of resources is devaluing God’s craftsmanship and coral is one of God’s very beautiful creations and thus it should be enjoyed and cared for.



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1.    "Agusuhin Reef Coral Relocation Project." Subicbaydivers.Com. 4 May 2008 <www.subicbaydivers.com/downloads/SBDA-Project.pps>.


2.    "Coal V. Wind." Union of Concerned Scientists. 18 Aug. 2005. 4 May 2008 <http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c01.html>.


3.    "Fossil fuel power plant." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 May 2008, 04:47 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 May 2008   



4.    Johnson, Sylvia A. Coral Reefs. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1984. 20-22.


5.    "Koreans, Condos and a Rare Unspoiled Philippine Forest." Asia Sentinel. 20 Apr. 2008. 4 May 2008     



6.    Walton, Marsha. "Algae: 'the Ultimate in Renewable Energy'" CNN.Com/Technology. 1 Apr. 2008. 4 May 2008



7.    "Zooxanthella." ITIS Standard Report. 4 May 2008. 4 May 2008



8.    "Zooxanthella." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Apr 2008, 11:55 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 May 2008




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