The world’s largest search engine has decided to give the Philippines a little gift on Independence Day: a tribute to Philippine marine life on its homepage.
‘Center of marine biodiversity’
The ninth in Google’s series of tributes to Filipino culture, the aquatic-themed mural features blue spotted sting rays, a sperm whale, and yellow-stripped fish exploring a coral-filled seabed.
A ribbon bearing the colors blue, yellow, and red, the prominent colors of the Philippine Flag, can also be found framed bellow the artwork.
According to Google, this year’s theme was to commemorate the Philippines’ marine life. Since 2006, the Philippines has been dubbed as the Center of marine biodiversity.
The waters around the Philippines is home to at least 2,000 species of fish. The Verde Island Passage between Luzon mainland and the island of Mindoro alone is known to house the greatest number of shorefish species in the world. Marine mammals and endangered turtles are known to reside in the marine corridor as well.
Previous Google doodles celebrating Filipino culture include tributes to the jeepney, the “bayanihan” tradition, and the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit Cavite where the Philippine Flag was first raised and independence was declared.
A click on the doodle leads to links on Philippine Independence.
As expected, the doodle has lead to some discussion on the current maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Google's doodle for Philippines' independence is referencing our country's rich maritime resources, but maybe also a subtle reaction to the growing agressiveness of China in the West Philippine Sea. Hmmmm touché. pic.twitter.com/s1ZKtxM54M
— WALTERINA MARKOVA ?️? (@iamloves) June 12, 2018
It's so funny how Google used the marine resources of the Philippines to celebrate the country's independence. With the recent events, it makes you ask if we truly are free and independent.
— y. martin cano (@YeshuaCano) June 12, 2018
The tribute to Philippine aquatic life comes in the wake of numerous calls for the Philippines to protect its marine ecology by enforcing its exclusive sovereign rights to disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Following reports of Chinese activity in the area, President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2018 declared parts of Benham Rise off the coast of Aurora as marine protected area.
The announcement came as 50 marine scientists were sent off to study and explore the area, which is also known for being the site of biodiversity. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered Navy patrols in the area in order to ward off intruders.
A few days before Independence Day 2018, videos surfaced of Chinese authorities confiscating fresh catch of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, which lies within the Philippines 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
Both Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs have claimed that the Philippines would take immediate diplomatic action, and that the incident has been reported to China.