Field Base Manager
Claire has just returned from a year working in the idyllic Maldivian islands as a PADI scuba diving instructor. She began working in the marine conservation industry in 2009 teaching diving to gap year volunteers in the Fijian Islands. This was followed by two years as operations manager at a diving centre where she continued to develop her knowledge of the tropical 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. Having grown up snorkelling in the Red Sea the underwater world has always had a strong hold over her and an escape back to the ocean was inevitable.
As well as being an experienced PADI instructor, Claire holds a certificate in Offsite Safety Management and a RYA boat masters licence. She is an Expedition Care Programme and a First Aid at Work instructor and is a Remote Emergency Medical Technician. Claire is very excited to be living in the Philippines and diving in one of the most diverse eco systems in the world.
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.
Marvin is part of our security team on site and has been with us since 2010. He patrols the site all night long to keep us safe. If you're lucky you might get the chance to see Marvin bust out some of his famous moves and give you his Elvis impression!
Ben or ‘Boy’ patrols the site in alternating shifts with Marvin. He is hard working but will never fail to flash you a smile and make a little joke as you return from the Videoke bar on a Saturday night. Between the two of them the security guards here will make you feel safe and sound on site.
Boat Driver, Reef Ranger & Bantay Dagat
Ernesto is our chief ranger of the reef, he wards off illegal fishermen from our house reef (the Napantao Community led-MPA) and has been a Bantay Dagat for the last 14 years. Before working as a Bantay Dagat he was the official Napantao baker. He is always ready to lend a hand whether it is helping put your kit on, digging a hole for a Crown of thorns extraction, or being ready to help with the boat equipment.
Ricky Sajol Deck Hand
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!
Laura Foley MSc, MSDT
Laura developed her passion for coral reef conservation and scientific diving while studying abroad in Australia during her undergraduate studies. She has since been pursuing a career in marine conservation and recently earned a masters degree in marine science with a concentration in marine policy. Laura loves sharing her interest of the ocean with others and has worked as a marine science and dive instructor in California and currently leads whale shark interaction dives as a Dive Master at the Georgia Aquarium. Having never been to The Philippines before, Laura looks forward to the adventure that awaits her as a CCC Project Scientist.
BA, OWSI, EFRI
Jackie left her native Brooklyn and her job as a dance teacher for a small Cambodian island in 2011, and the rest is history. She has coordinated volunteer-based reef and seahorse research in Cambodia, taught as an OWSI in Costa Rica and Oman, and tagged turtles with the US National Park Service in the US Virgin Islands. She is looking forward to joining the CCC Philippines site as Scuba Instructor.
Olly has been teaching diving for the last 7 years, in many different places including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and the Great Barrier Reef, and for many different organisations including data collection and conservation organisations, resorts, livaboards, and dive shops. He has a great passion for teaching others about diving and the marine world, and seeing them enjoy it as much as he does. He first started getting involved in marine data collection as a volunteer on a turtle monitoring project in a Guatemalan coast of the Pacific Ocean, back in 2005. After his time as a volunteer he decided to train to be an instructor. Oliver holds many different dive qualifications, including PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer, ASSET Dive Technician, DSAT Tec Deep Diver, RAID Rebreather Rescue Diver, to name but a few. He also holds a diploma in Marine Biology and is in the final stages of completing a BSc in Natural Sciences.
Julia Herbolsheimer MSc
Julia earned her Master's Degree from the University of Hamburg, studying the spawning cycles of Baltic herring during a couple of very cold months in Estonia. She left European fisheries for a warmer climate as soon as possible, putting her passion for scuba diving to work on conservation projects in Italy, Croatia, Cambodia, and the Dutch Antilles. She has also worked in Oman and Costa Rica as a PADI Divemaster. Julia is very excited to be the Philippines site Science Officer.
Warren Storr BSc
Warren was interested with ecosystem dynamics from an early age, where he was a keen angler, thus loving outdoors and aquatic environments. From working for five years in the construction industry he took time out to study Fisheries Management at college level and went on to undertake a BSc degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Essex. Whilst at Uni he studied various subjects in tropical biology/marine ecosystems, and was fortunate to attend a three week diving module in Indonesia. These experiences made Warren fall in love with reef environments and inspired his final year project on the “Impacts of light and sedimentation levels upon Scleractinean coral architecture”. Warren is looking forward to meeting everyone on the expedition, giving volunteers an awe-inspiring experience and teaching to the best of his ability.
Josephine Cheng B.Sc, B.Ed
Josephine has always had a passion for wildlife and the environment. After completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology, she received her Bachelor of Education and has been teaching elementary school in Canada. She loves watching students learn and be inspired. However, the call of the wild kept pulling her into the field. In the last couple of years, her teaching became interspersed with volunteering abroad. She worked in Costa Rica with a wildlife and marine conservation organization, where she surveyed rainforest species and tagged nesting sea turtles. Then, she worked in the Laurentians in Canada, tracking American martens. She is very excited to join Coral Cay and combine her love of teaching with her love for conservation in the position of Education Officer in the Philippines.
Helen has been a qualified nurse for over 10 years having spent most of her career working in critical care in London and Australia. After completing a diploma in tropical nursing she worked in the field in a post earthquake Haiti which spawned her desire for expedition nursing. She has a strong passion for travel and culture having backpacked her way through over 50 countries and is always looking for a hot place to call home for a while. She is excited to be working in the Philippines, in her first foray in to the conservation field, and to be looking after all the staff and volunteers along the way!
Our lovable hound Bantay, keeps our volunteers entertained on the Philippines project site.