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 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.
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.
Maryann joins the Coral Cay team from Canada, where she learned to dive in the cold waters of British Columbia (BC) during her Bachelor of Science in Biology (with a concentration in Marine Biology) at the University of Victoria. Her interests in conservation biology and ecology led her to pursue undergraduate research in coral reef ecology. During this time she obtained her scientific diving certification and joined her lab’s field team on Kiritimati Atoll to study human impacts to the local reef. She moved to Canada’s east coast for her Masters of Marine Management at Dalhousie University, carrying out her graduate research in the commercial salmon fishery on the remote northern coast of BC . Maryann is excited to share her passion for biodiversity and conservation as Science Officer.
Charlotte has been diving for over 10 years now and became an scuba instructor in 2008. As a Facility Manager and Sustainability Consultant, diving is a perfect way for her to unwind and relax.The underwater world is a magical place where she can be one with nature. After working as a scuba instructor in Thailand, the Caribbean and the Netherlands it was time to get more involved in marine conservation, therefore in 2009 she participated in a marine conservation project in Fiji. This was quickly followed by further projects in the Maldives and Spain. During the last 3 years Charlotte has been the chairwoman of a small NGO called Sea First Foundation, organizing beach clean ups, World Oceans Day events and more. Charlotte’s most recent role has been acting Secretary for another NGO, dedicated to building an artificial reef in Thailand to reproduce and grow corals. Working as a scuba instructor for Coral Cay is the next step to getting more involved.
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 coming 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).