Apo, a tiny volcanic speck roughly in the center of the Philippines archipelago, is home to a pristine marine sanctuary in an area known as the Amazon of the Sea because of its biodiversity. The waters around the tiny island are thought to be home to around 400 species of coral.
The island’s community is made up primarily of fishermen, who heavily opposed the establishment of the sanctuary at first, worried that the conservation efforts would impose restrictions that would send an already impoverished place deeper into privation.
“When the turtles saw people, it was like they saw a ghost,” said Mario Pascobello, a resident of Apo Island in the Philippines. “In the old days, they were being slaughtered here,” he added, with the island’s fishermen feasting on their flesh and their eggs. Now, the endangered green turtles, largely herbivorous, peacefully graze in the shallows off Apo’s coast, unbothered by the fishermen, who share the waters with them.
But if the turtles are no longer menaced by the fishermen here, they do face another man-made threat: climate change.