Field Base Manager
This will be Claire's third FBM contract with CCC, having managed both the Philippines and Montserrat site in the past. She began working in the marine conservation industry in 2009 teaching diving to gap year volunteers on a remote beach in the Fijian Islands. This was followed by two years as operations manager at a diving centre on one of the main Fijian islands and a year on a small Maldivian island where she continued to develop her knowledge of the tropical Indo Pacific underwater eco system. Claire holds a degree in Agricultural and Environmental sciences which allowed her to work in a wide variety of science based roles prior to embarking on her overseas adventures.
As well as being an experienced PADI instructor, Claire holds a certificate in Offsite Safety Management, a RYA boat masters licence and is a Scubapro technician. She is an Expedition Care Programme and a First Aid at Work instructor.
Nelson Espinas (‘Tata’)
Tata began his work with Coral Cay by providing lunch to volunteers visiting his hometown restaurant in Malitbog. Coral Cay loved his cooking so much that he was offered a position full time and has now been with us for over a decade, cooking up a splendour twice a day! He will introduce you to all the Filipino classics like pork adobo, chicken halang halang, tuna kinalaw (caught by local fishermen), fresh squid from the local market, fried aubergine, and many more! He has no problem cooking a grand feast. Look out for his mango floats the richest most indulgent treat you will ever encounter! You can catch him singing Bon Jovi 'Always' and Bryan Adams classics in the kitchen. Tata also loves a good gossip, and will tell you all sorts of fascinating stories about the past adventures of previous volunteers. He is also a great person to talk to about local fiestas, as he loves to join the volunteers when we are invited out to discos. He can whip up spring rolls for 30 people in ten minutes and his pancakes are simply to die for!
Richard Bongot ('Bok Bok')
Boat Captain, Carpenter & Handyman
Bok Bok has been with us since 2003; his nickname means 'termite pulp'. Bok Bok mans our boat Banakun and keeps her shipshape; he is also a carpenter extraordinaire. He worked as a painter in Manila for some years before moving back to Thomas Oppus, Southern Leyte with his wife and children, and began working with Coral Cay. With an absolutely winning smile, and a hilarious personality he keeps the local staff chuckling all the time. If you get involved in the basketball games on site, you'll want him on your team, he is dynamite!
Jesse Lou Tinapay
Community Liaison Officer
Jesse is our Community Liaison Office which means he is our gateway into the local communities around Sogod Bay as well as the schools where he runs our Sea Star programme, educating the kids on Coral Reefs, their resident lifeforms and the importance of protecting them. He is also a qualified Dive Instructor completing over 2800 dives with the vast majority on the Napantao House Reef right on the site’s door step. This means he provides an invaluable wealth of knowledge to everyone who dives with us here. If you want to see the elusive Mandarin fish then Jesse is your man as he always manages to spot them! Furthermore, if you like nudibranchs then Jesse will find you a 2mm Hypselodoris and will have the full species name written on his slate in Latin before you have even realised it’s not a piece of algae!
Ricky joined us in May 2010 and has quickly made himself invaluable. He is our official deck hand on the boat, but you’ll often find him helping in the kitchen too, as well as being able to replace doors, windows, and sort out electrical problems. He is a PADI Rescue diver and uses his skills regularly to dive off the boat, with flip flops and no mask, to rescue items that people have dropped over the side! He can also fix most things just by looking at them!
Jose Ydel (Dudong)
Compressor Operator and groundsman
Jose "Dudong" Ydel is our compressor operator and general groundsman. He has been a local snorkel guide in the area of Napantao for many years now, and has a keen interest in conservation of the local marine environment. He is currently a PADI Divemaster. In his spare time he enjoys artisan coconut wood carving, and is responsible for many of the necklasses and wooden hangings seen on base.
Darienne has worked on both the ecological and social sides of a variety of marine conservation projects. Her Masters research focused on Rockfish Conservation Areas in British Columbia, Canada where she looked at illegal recreational fishing within protected areas. Since then Darienne has also worked as the diver-in-charge on underwater fish surveying projects and as a researcher on underwater towed video surveys. Darienne has extensive experience as a cold-water scientific diver as well as sailing, boating, and generally having fun on the water. Darienne is also a practiced public speaker having given numerous talks for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian National Parks, and at aquariums and community centers. Darienne is a certified Canadian Association of Underwater Science diver, a PADI Rescue Diver, and is trained in Wilderness First Aid and Emergency Oxygen.
Jamie’s lifelong passion for marine biology was established during his early travels to the Seychelles, snorkelling in the tropical waters whilst visiting his Seychelloise grandmother. Since completing his MSc in Tropical Marine Biology, Jamie has worked with a UK anti-shark finning organisation leading the promotional components for the charity’s campaigns and the first ever UK Sharkfest in 2016. His academic research focused on the resilience and acclimatory characteristics of hard coral species, an area he feels will become increasingly important when constructing conservation plans for the world’s coral reefs in the future.
As a qualified Divemaster, Jamie has been involved in extended research excursions to Cambodia and Sulawesi, where he developed his understanding for a wide range of marine survey techniques and furthered his identification skills.
Ever since Janie was little, she has enjoyed time in nature. She undertook her degree in Wildlife Conservation and Zoo Biology, in Manchester. During her course she seized the opportunity to have a placement year as a research assistant with a marine N.G.O in Madagascar to discover, practically, how environmental conservation works in situ. It was during this time Janie learned to dive and gained firsthand experiential knowledge about coral reefs and their associated threats. Since then Janie has completed an International Erasmus Mundus in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, just recently achieving her first publication for her MSc thesis on the governance dimensions of the Scottish wild salmon fisheries. Janie was fortunate to join a dive survey across the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar, and further her research skills in various working internships. Janie is very excited to be joining such a worthy organisation as Coral Cay and to have the opportunity to help other people find their passion in marine conservation.
Since first diving back in 2008 in a little inland quarry and deciding it was his passion, Charles has endeavoured to gain experience across the world. He got his first taste of conservation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa, where he quickly decided sharing this knowledge would be his goal. His professional career began in Indonesia where he worked for several months, becoming a Divemaster, whilst also building artificial reefs. He then headed off to the Australia’s east coast to become an instructor then a Master Scuba Diver Trainer. His passion for the largest Whale shark to the smallest Nudibranch has found him joining the Lifesigns Group, to help preserve them for all for those who love and need the ocean.
Shrimp (aka King Prawn)
Shrimp arrived here in the middle of 2015, and serves as the base guard dog. He takes his job very seriously and has been known to bark at leaves and coconuts that venture too close to the building. While he does lack intelligence, he does make this up in charisma and is well loved by the staff and volunteers on site.
Coral (aka Corallimorph, Coral the Destroyer, Coral the Vacuum)
Coral arrived on base at the end of last year. She was originally from Tacloban, where she heard about a position for an assistant guard dog. She applied for it by urinating on the Field Base Manager as he was interviewing other potential puppies for the position. The FBM admired her confidence and offered her the job. Her duties include either destroying or eating anything found within her boundary of the base (depending on the nutritional value of the item in question).