New species discovered in the Philippines

by Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jul 05 2011 12:18 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2011 08:18 PM

SAN FRANCISCO – The Philippines took center stage at the California Academy of Sciences last Thursday, as scientist unveiled more than 300 species discovered in the archipelago during their recent exhibition.

Dr. Meg Burke, director of education at the California Academy of Sciences, said that all the scientists and educators were excited about the new discoveries.

"We saw animals and plants that nobody else have ever studied before. Nobody had given them a name. It's a thrill of discovery," said Burke.

For seven weeks, more than 30 scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and more than 2 dozen colleagues from the Philippines conducted the most comprehensive scientific survey effort ever done in the country – documenting both terrestrial and marine life forms.

Dozens of new insects and spiders, deep-sea armored corals, ornate sea pens, bizarre new sea urchins and sea stars, a shrimp-eating swell shark and over 50 colorful new sea slugs were discovered.

These new discoveries will be confirmed and described in the next few months.

"The Philippines is one of the most diverse areas in the world. Biologists did not know that until we discovered the triangle between Indonesia, Philippines and New Guinea — that is the most diverse biological region in the world," said curator Gary Williams.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim also graced the exhibit.

"The event has attracted so many people," Lim said. He added that there were around 2,000 guests looking at the new species discovered in the Philippines.

"What better way to attract possible tourists in the Philippines?" he added.

For some Filipino-Americans, the exhibit was an eye-opening experience.

"It does help to have a better idea or concept of what makes us, us," said Dingding Salgado.

This expedition to the Philippines means more than just discovering the beauty and richness of the country. It is a call to protect the environment, not just for this generation, but for generations to come.

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