MANILA -- "ARAICoBeH" is no longer just a "hugot" term after Filipino researchers have made it into a low-cost tool for capturing images of coral reefs without the need for diving.
A Rapid Assessment Instrument for Coastal Benthic Habitats (ARAICoBeH) also requires "less time to gather the same amount of data as that of the photo transect method," according to the Philippine Biology Conferences.
The tool was developed by researchers Caryl Benjamin, Patrick Lawrence Cadeliña, Aletta Yñiguez, Cesar Villanoy from the University of the Philippines-Diliman's Marine Science Institute and Technische Universität München.
"We're proudly (and unapologetically) announcing to the world that ARAICoBeH is now an officially accepted scientific term," Cadeliña said in a Facebook post.
The researchers conducted a comparative study, published in an academic journal on September 14, between ARAICoBeH and the frequently used underwater photo transect method in coastal waters of more than 10 islands in El Nido, Palawan over 4 days.
It revealed that “there were no significant differences in estimates of percent coral cover and diversity of benthic functional groups for majority of sites while estimates of community structure were very similar.”
"This shows that the ARAICoBeH System can be used to assess and monitor the state of shallow marine benthic habitats without compromising accuracy," the study read.
The tool, however, is not expected to replace the scuba diving method, according to Cadeliña.
"There are still other criteria that is limited to our system (e.g. species identification) and, of course, it's still fun to scuba dive," he told ABS-CBN News.
Cadeliña said they came up with the project to cut time in collecting data for two national reef assessment programs in 2014, adding that the name "just clicked."
"It wasn't intentional to turn out that way but we intended it to be quick to remember one. It just clicked when we're describing our tool based on the questions what it is used at, what kind of tool it is, and what was its intention."