Field Base Manager
Olly started his career by volunteering for a Turtle Research and Conservation project in Guatemala. This inspired him to follow a career in the world of diving and conservation, where he has been active for almost 10 years. During this time he has worked in research projects in the Caribbean, “livaboards” in the Great Barrier Reef, exploration of the shipwrecks in the south of Spain and the Cenote’s of Mexico, and many other projects. He is a PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer, a member of the Association of Scuba Service Engineers & Technician (ASSET) and Rebreather Association of International Divers (RAID), and a first aid instructor. He holds a diploma in Marine Biology and is in the final stages of completing a degree in Natural Sciences.
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
Compressor Operator, Dive Instructor & Boat Driver
Jesse is our compressor operator and local dive instructor. If you want to see the illusive 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 before you have even realised its not a piece of algae! His fantastic instructing skills, compressor know-how and local dive knowledge means his contribution to the CCC team is absolutely priceless.
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 Rescue Diver. In his spare time he enjoys artisan coconut wood carving, and is responsible for many of the necklasses and wooden hangings seen on base.
Marie started diving at the age of 12 years old and this leading to her falling in love with the ocean. Since then she has completed a Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and Ecology and a Master's degree in Marine Science and Management at the University of Sydney. While in Australia, she completed research on corals at a research station in the Great Barrier Reef. After graduating, she moved back to Europe and volunteered in several Marine Protected Areas around Croatia and France. Recently, she spent a year at the Marine Stewardship Council in London where she was part of the Science department with a focus on sustainable fisheries, outreach and training. She is now joining Coral Cay Conservation as Project scientist in the Philippines.
Growing up on the coast of Devon, Joel spent much of his childhood rock pooling, which began his interest in marine biology. He first became acquainted with Coral Cay during his 4 month Philippines expedition in 2011 where he completed his Divemaster and secured his interest in tropical marine ecology. Joel went on to study Marine Biology at Swansea University where he helped to initiate, and became 2015 president of, the Swansea University Marine Biology Society. He also aided SEACAMS with seagrass research in north Wales, and gainied further skills in tropical research during a field course to Puerto Rico, which helped him to improve his knowledge and experience of tropical ecosystems. After assisting in training with the Swansea dive club Joel is keen to return to the Philippines for some warm water diving and is looking forward to working for Coral Cay.
Assistant Project Scientist and Science Officer
Josh is actually a long term volunteer at Coral Cay, joining the site in July. From The gold Coast, Australia, Josh has recently completed his Bachelor of Science majoring in Marine and Wildlife Biology. Josh joined CCC with a fellow Australian for 4 months to increase his knowledge of the marine environment and conservation methods, and to complete his dive master. Josh has become a big part of base already assisting in the teaching of SDP and PADI courses. Keen to continue the work CCC does within the Philippines he has applied to stay on with us and is now our new Assistant Science Officer and Project scientist.
Aoife is a marine mammal biologist from Ireland. After completing her degree on the west coast of Ireland, Aoife worked for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group as a research assistant working on photo identification surveys of bottlenose dolphins the Shannon Estuary. She then went to Australia to work with the University of Queensland on the BRAHSS (Behavioural Response of Australian Humpback whales to seismic surveys) Project. Aoife stayed working and travelling in Australia for most of 4 years. She worked on many cetacean research projects, lived on deserted islands and continued her scuba dive education. Aoife has travelled extensively throughout SE Asia and has recently become certified as a Padi Open Water Scuba Instructor in the Philippines. She has been working in the Philippines on the island of Negros and will join the Coral Cay project in Southern Leyte in the coming weeks.