Meeting Date: 3 August 2012

Prepared By: Sherrie Wight.


The Undersea World of Rotary

It seems you can find Rotary just about everywhere if you know where to look. From its humble beginnings in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Rotary spread quickly to Canada, then Europe, and before long it had reached all seven continents of the world.

In December of 1968, it traveled into outer space when the crew of the Apollo VIII Lunar Mission carried their Rotary Club banner to orbit the moon! Rotary had been to space...where else was there to go? But of course....the final frontier: under the deep blue sea!

Lamon Bay lies along the eastern coast of the Philippines. Local fishermen depend upon their catch from the bay to make a living. For quite some time, the local fishing community had been creating artificial reefs of bamboo to provide breeding grounds for the marine life. Unfortunately the bay became a popular fishing spot for illegal commercial fishing which depleted the fish and destroyed the bamboo reefs. By the year 2000, the local fishermen were experiencing noticeable drops in their catch that threatened their very livelihood. They formed a volunteer fishing patrol to fight against the illegal activity in their traditional fishing grounds and slowly began to reconstruct the artificial bamboo reefs in hopes of preserving their bay.

Seeing the plight of the people who drew their living from the bay, the Rotary Club of Atimonan, Philippines spearheaded a project using a matching grant with the Rotary Club of Madera, USA to build a great reef. The project was launched in 2008, and with help from the local people a huge artificial reef was constructed for a cost of approximately $28,000 USD. The concrete reef measures about 4 meters (13 feet) high and has a diameter of about 21 meters (69 feet). It was constructed on land and floated to its final location in August 2009 using Styrofoam and metal barrels. Once there, military divers and fishermen cut the floatation devices loose to sink the reef.

It is to date the largest artificial reef in the Philippines. It also holds the record for “the largest” in another category. The top of the reef is a 2 inch thick concrete replica of the Rotary emblem painted in the familiar blue and gold! At nearly 69 feet in diameter, it is the largest Rotary emblem in the world and it is under water!!

Almost three years after being submerged, the reef is teeming with marine life and has become a popular diving site for tourists.

Watch the videos to see the project unfold and see how the reef slowly becomes a living thing. For Rotarians the sky is not the limit for Rotary truly knows no boundaries.

Building the Reef, Part 1: 2009 (4:46)

Building Reef, Part 2: 2009 (5:22)

Diving the Reef: 2009 (4:30)

Diving the Reef: 2010 (1:13)

Diving the Reef: 2011 (5:09)

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