Apo Island is a volcanic island covering 12 hectares in land area, 7 kilometers off the southeastern tip of Negros Island and 30 kilometers south of the Negros Oriental capital of Dumaguete City in the Philippines. The name “Apo” was derived from the a Filipino word which literally means, “Grandchild”.

The marine habitat around the island is a marine reserve, protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It has become a popular dive site and snorkeling destination with tourists. There are two resorts on Apo Island, both of which have their own dive centers: Apo Island Beach Resort and Liberty’s Lodge. There is a ranger station and a lighthouse.

The island is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental, and is one of the municipality’s 23 barangays. As of the 2010 census, the island has a population of 918.

 

Marine sanctuary and tourism

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Rock formations at the boat landing area.

Apo Island is one of the world’s best known community-organized marine sanctuaries, and as such it has been well documented by the global science community. The project was started when Dr. Angel Alcala, a marine scientist from the Silliman University Marine Laboratoryintroduced to the local fisher-folk the importance of creating a marine sanctuary in the area. Initially, there was hesitation on the part of the locals; but after a three-year dialogue, Dr. Alcala was able to convince the island community to establish the sanctuary. Assisted by the staff of the SU Marine Laboratory in 1982, the local fishermen selected an area along 450 meters of shoreline and extending 500 meters from shore as the sanctuary site. Since then, the project initiated on the island led to the creation of hundreds of other marine sanctuaries in the Philippines.

At present, the island is home to over 650 documented species of fish and estimated to have over 400 species of corals. Most of the Philippines’ 450 species of coral can be found here, from tiny bubble corals to huge gorgonian sea fans and brain corals. Visitors and tourists pay a fee to enter Apo Island and to snorkel or dive in the marine sanctuary there, these fees are used to keep the sanctuary clean and in good condition.

In 2003, Chicago‘s Shedd Aquarium opened a Wild Reef exhibit based on Apo Island’s surrounding reef and marine sanctuary. In 2008, Sport Diver Magazine listed Apo Island as one of the top 100 diving spots in the world.