and his team spent a year and a half collecting over 2,000 DNA samples of juvenile vagabond butterflyfish and 1,500 adults in the
Apo Island area, trying to match potential parents and juveniles, under the assumption that when matching a parent and a baby, one can see how far the juveniles travel. His study, published in 2017, showed that larvae dispersion is vast – spanning from 85 kilometres to 120 kilometres.
It was found that juveniles from Apo Island spawned at coastal Negros, determining that a marine protected area can help recover fish populations in neighbouring towns, and even neighbouring islands. If a fish larva settles on the reef in another protected area, it has a better chance of developing into a spawning adult. The synergy between marine protected areas is crucial to the recovery of the fish population, so let’s save the ocean, one marine protected area at a time.
Roni Ben-Aharon is the reservations manager at Atlantis; a global nomad, diving professional, who has been working in marketing and management in the tourism industry for over a decade. She can be reached at
TOP LEFT The children of Apo Island
ABOVE LEFT Local villagers of Apo Island
Thanks to Dr. Alcala’s forward thinking, Apo Island’s reefs have largely recovered after the cessation of unsustainable fishing practices