Why Boracay Waters Are Green

Boracay Island – a tropical paradise that boasts of fine white sand and clear blue waters like no other. This summer season, it’s the place to see (and be seen in, in my honest opinion. Not the point).

Teka teka, clear blue waters?

The beach usually serves as a beautiful backdrop for turista pictures. Not in our case.

For a better view of what I am talking about, check out this photo.

Our hotel was at the far end of Station 1, where the beach was supposed to be nicer and cleaner. Nope. It was the same gunky green on the whole stretch of White Beach when we visited.

It’s not moss or seaweed. It’s algae. I believe there is a collective Filipino term for all these three – lumot.

Sorry that I make it sound so yucky. I know they are natural, living microorganisms. But you must agree that they affect the aesthetic value of the island, be it positively or negatively. We all have our own preferences. I guess I made it sound yucky for a reason.

Anyway, locals say it’s seasonal. The waters have always been like that during the summer months because there are less waves to wash the algae off the shore. This has been true even before Boracay was overpopulated and commercialized.

You can just stop here and mentally note to book a ticket during the off-peak season next time, or you can ask further – why?

Why is there a lot of algae in the first place? I was with my fellow Biology majors on that trip. We all agreed that the algal bloom could be associated with eutrophication, based on what we learned from our Ecology class. Yehess. The waters seem to be nutrient rich, otherwise the microorganisms won’t grow. They need “good food” too, parang Nido ni Jun Jun. The high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water plus the hot summer sun result to what we call an algal bloom.

So where did the all those nutrients come from? I found out that it is mostly because of the poor sewage system in the island. [Source: Global Coral Reef Alliance] Due to poor planning and development, or maybe even because financial profitability ranked higher than environmental safety in the priority list, the sewage from the residents and tourists are simply dumped into the ocean. That has been the practice ever since. Today, the currents can obviously no longer dilute the nutrients to harmless levels for free.

I’m not writing this to downgrade our very own island paradise. I just want to share my understanding that in the ecosystem, everything is interrelated. I can go on and on about other related topics such as how the sensitive coral reefs are directly affected by the nutrients, or how the sewage could contain disease-causing bacteria that have become tolerant of the salt.

Boracay Island – overdeveloped on the surface, poorly developed below. I hope it doesn’t remain that way.

PS. I heard that a loan has already been given to improve the wastewater management in the island. Good! [Source – ABSCBN News]


16 thoughts on “Why Boracay Waters Are Green

  1. Does anyone know where the 100 peso “environmental” fee is going? The local government is threatening to kill the goose-laying-the-golden-eggs by not developing sewage treatment. Are these international tourists going to return to a beach that is slathered in algea with poor planning when there are so many other competing beaches in asia with better sewage development?


  2. I’m always in Boracay 2x a year (April and September) and this year i’m there just after holy week (April 21-26) We walked the whole stretch from station 1 to 3 and yes there are still algae but it seems to be residing now not like last year, now you can just walk a few meters from the shore and the waters are clear. My 5 year old son was hesitant to dip in because of the algae so I carried him until the waters are clear (chest deep) good thing he has a floater hahaha. We swam for about an hour (adik lang) and enjoyed it. I’m sure my son has drank some salt water and also water from the pool but fortunately he didn’t get sick as some blogger/newscaster said that the water might have e-coli.

    As for the food we ate mainly in Mesa at Boracay Regency, there were times that we did not eat their grilled chicken because it’s under-cooked but overall food is so-so… :P. No e-coli either. Also food tripped at Smoke’s, Andoks etc and had no problems.

    Overall, Boracay is still the best for me specially in September, less people, less litter, less algae hehe. I’ve been to other beaches (Batangas, Mindoro, Palawan, Ormoc, Cavite, Cebu and Subic) … they are less crowded but the sand is not as fine as Boracay. I could not walk barefoot in galera believe me!

    I’m from Ormoc but now residing in U.K., I miss the Philippines already… and Boracay… huhuhu. I hope that I can get back there this September.


  3. I just got back from Boracay last night. Last time I was there was in 2009 and I was really dissapointed at what I saw. Algae Algae Everywhere! WTF?!?! You posted this entry last year and for the looks of things, the Algae got worse! The only time I swam the waters of Boracay was when I took the banka out to crocodile island. There was no way I was going to swim in Algae infested waters, especially knowing where that came from. I hope the resort owners and all the establishment owners do something about this quick!


    • “There was no way I was going to swim in Algae infested waters, especially knowing where that came from. ”

      Where do you think did the algae come from? Like I said, it’s pretty much a natural occurrence, part of the whole ecological life cycle ladida, and there’s no instant solution to get rid of it.


  4. Seasonal. or nutrients. Still, Boracay to me, will always be a paradise. Thanks for the reminder. i believe the local DENR and the regional office are on their way to implement solutions to such. Thanks too for being concerned with my home province only island.


  5. Pingback: Tips From Our Boracay Experience « Make My Day

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