The Science of Summer: Why Boracay Beaches are so White
Every last week of the month of March, Boracay celebrates the Sand Lantern Festival—which is all about the creation of various sand lanterns. Of course, the event would not be possible without highlighting Boracay’s very own white sand.
Now, have you ever wondered why Boracay sand is so white? What makes it so fine and powdery?
Well, sand is made up of a lot of particles that contribute to making it look the way it does. As for the beaches of Boracay, the following are responsible for its sand’s pristine white appearance:
Forams are derived from the term foraminifera, single-celled organisms that are invisible to the naked eye. They are mostly found in the ocean, and since the Philippines lies in the Pacific Ocean, and is surrounded by water, there’s definitely a lot of forams in the country’s beaches. These forams emerge into the ocean’s surface, and when you look at sand under a microscope, you’ll see amazing shapes such as hearts or stars that will really leave you in awe.
Forams are also made from calcium carbonate, and when calcium carbonate is embedded on the sea bed and pounded by waves, they become fine, powdery grains of white—thus, the sand’s color.
Corals are essential in the formation of sand. One single coral contains polyps, which are tiny marine animals. These polyps give the corals their color. However, when the polyps die, they become white, and when a lot of them are washed to the shore, the sand adopts their white color.
Coral skeletons—even those that are over thousands of years of age—are also washed ashore, and merge with the sand. Therefore, you can say that corals really play a big part in making the sand of Boracay what it is today.
In the tropics where Boracay is located, a lot of Halimeda, or seaweed skeletons exist. These skeletons look like coins because of their round and flat segments. You can typically find these in sandy bottoms, and coral reefs. Just like forams, they’re also made of calcium carbonate, and when these are swept ashore, they form tiny white specks of sand. This is why Halimeda is considered as among the building blocks of Boracay sand.
Finally, you can also thank parrotfish—those cute, colorful fish that live in the beaches of Boracay.
Parrotfish have these special bones in their bodies that allow them to chew coral—and not just that, their teeth also allow them to pulverize coral into fine sand. The corals are pulverized once they’re in the fish’s bodies, and once excreted, they make their way to the shore. Parrotfish could actually produce a ton of these pulverized corals each year—which is why they’re really a big part of the ecological system.
The Magical Sand
image source: http://www.aveboracay.com
Now that you know what makes the sand of Boracay so white and beautiful, you could appreciate it even more. And the next time you visit Boracay, you can impress your family and friends with what you know.