11 July 2014

Montserrat Ridge to Reef Project

Check out our new video to get a taster of what it is like to volunteer as a terrestrial or marine volunteer in Montserrat.

Edited by Tristan Brown
Music: "Stealth Groover" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

09 July 2014

CCC Review: A Volunteers' Perspective

My impacts and memories from NapanWOW: 


I was at the Philippine site last year, whilst there I met my best friend (a fellow volunteer from France), who has been amazing to me since and I have attempted to be the same to her although I'm sure I would never be as good a friend as her. 
My time in the Philippines reinforced my love of animals. My career goals, although the same, have adapted somewhat to hopefully start my own colony of hard corals to help the conservation in the wild. Meeting with a Filipino scholar who has similar interests, has been a start to that and I will hopefully return to the Philippines. 
Personally, travelling and learning to dive was tough suffering with bi-polar and I had to stay out of the water more than I would have liked but now when I have bad days I'm trying to push through because every day is taking me one step closer to returning to the Philippines. 
By a UK volunteer.

01 July 2014

Measuring the Montserrat Anole

The beautiful Montserrat Anole. This lizard species is endemic to Montserrat and varies in colour from bright green to dark brown. Here we see a team member measuring the lizards length. This is done by measuring from the tip of the snout to the vent, at the base of the tail.

24 June 2014

CCC Volunteer, Lydia Tivenan, spreads the word about Manatees!

This week's Montserrat workshop was all about the marine mammal, the manatee. CCC was pleased to be able to benefit from our on site aficionado CCC volunteer, Lydia Tivenan. Lydia, had previously volunteered at a manatee rehabilitation centre and was excited to be able to teach the kids all about these beautiful sea creatures. Manatees have been extinct in the lesser Antilles for a number of years but with the neighbouring Island of Guadeloupe interested in re-establishing them it was the perfect opportunity to learn more. The kids were their usual excited and eager selves and made some fantastic manatees of their own during the craft session, letting their imagination go wild with rainbow manatees and secret service manatees!

13 June 2014

Coral Cay Conservation Review- a volunteer and staff members' perspective.

I've been both a volunteer and a staff member with CCC at the Cambodia and Philippine bases. These experiences were quite simply awesome and have been a life changer for me. It's not just the focus on diving - which I'm addicted to - and the soulful pursuit of supporting marine conservation and the local community, it's also the shared experience and camaraderie between the folk on a small base.

Generally these expeditions attract like-minded, fun loving adventurous people who are passionate about nature and learning. Staff members are vetted by HQ so you can expect positive professionals who ensure the bases are run safely. You need to appreciate that the bases are quite basic and there can be challenges, e.g. intermittent electricity, equipment failure, bad weather, and ill health. This is to be expected, it's an expedition in a developing country in the tropics, it's not a holiday camp. But to be sure there is also a lot of fun to be had too.

I was initially sceptical that you could take volunteers who had never dived before and have them surveying within 3 weeks. However, it is entirely possible if the students are enthusiastic and willing to work hard in the time scale. I say 'hard' but when you're enjoying the work it's hugely rewarding and feels easy. The survey methodology that is taught and used globally is built around the idea of citizen science - anyone from any background can learn the required knowledge and skills to support surveying of coral reefs. 

If you want to get hands on experience in marine conservation in the tropics I'd heartily recommend Coral Cay Conservation.
By Jerry Slater (Science Officer, Cambodia 2014. Volunteer, the Philippines 2013)

06 June 2014

The Montserrat team hold their busiest workshop yet!

Shawn (Project Scientist) and Orlane Van Erps (Education Officer) held a ssssuper ssssuccesssssful snake workshop in Montserrat last week, with 21 kids attending! The very keen students were eager to learn and already had a great foundation of knowledge on which the CCC staff could build. The craft session involved fashioning snakes out of toilet rolls and paper- and very colourful they were too!

29 May 2014

Coral Cay Conservation Review - A Scholars Perspective

Before I started out at Coral Cay Conservation, I was just equipped with the fervour to learn more about the ocean and the passion for marine conservation. In all honesty, I didn't quite know enough to actually make a substantial difference in safeguarding our seas. It was about two years ago since I started getting into skin diving/free diving. And it was during that time I found out about the Philippines’ immense marine biodiversity. The beauty and splendour of the water and marine organisms surrounding our country was (and still is) vastly taken for granted and mistreated. Gradually knowing more about conservation only showed how little I actually knew about it all. Coral Cay moulded me to become more aware, informed, and most of all involved in saving our reefs, which likewise included making livelihoods involved with the sea more sustainable. 

I have nothing but good things to say about my whole experience. I am eternally grateful to everyone, the staff and the other volunteers, for being so accommodating and encouraging. From learning scuba and surveying, doing chores and instilling a sense of discipline, to Saturday night socialising and commonplace goofing around, everything was just so fun, worthwhile, and memorable. Now, I could say I'm somewhat well versed with marine life. I've learnt a sizeable amount throughout my whole stay. This amazing opportunity opened up even more doors and prospects for me. I'm primed and ready to make a dent in the world of conservation! 
By Mary Elizabeth Ting (Philippines scholar, April 2014)

22 May 2014

Koh Rong Life Beneath the Waves

It is our pleasure to introduce our new documentary 'Koh Rong Life Beneath the Waves'. Ronan (Project Scientist) and Ben (Field Base Manager) will take the opportunity to present the video to our project partners and the local people at World Oceans Day on the 8th June. It will then be used as a training aid for local budding conservations! With its Khmer narration and English subtitles it will be accessible for everyone, and will be a fitting legacy for CCC's work in Cambodia. Produced, filmed and edited by Toby Russell. 

9th May 2014

CCC Scholars in Action!

This week the team here at CCC were delighted to hear about the Rapid Biodiversity Assessment Project in Saint Bernard and Silago, Southern Leyte, Philippines. This local initiative, funded by the Leyte Center for Development Incorporated, PLAN International and BMZ, aims to characterise the coral reef ecosystems in the target areas with a view to informing sustainable management. The underwater survey team consisted of Ryan Tomol, Junil Canañes, Marlon Managa, Swet Brillantes and Jerome Napala, four of whom completed their ecological survey training through CCC’s Scholarship Scheme.

 

Jerome Napala said: “We are a bit proud to show it off to CCC UK folks that the resources and time you spent in training all of us are not wasted. We are excited to contribute on conserving our marine environment as what Coral Cay Conservation has been doing in Southern Leyte for the past decade.”

 

CCC’s Scholarship Scheme aims to equip nationals of our host countries with the tools they need to implement conservation action within their communities. The scheme is open to any resident national of the Philippines, Cambodia or Montserrat who has an active interest in conservation. To find out more about the scheme visit or scholarship page.

 

Here at CCC, we couldn’t be more excited to see such important conservation work taking place. Keep up the good work guys!

7th April 2014

Marine creature of the Week

Today we are looking at this amazing Jellyfish spotted by our team in Cambodia. Can you tell us what is happening in this shot? (Tip: look at the other creatures in the picture.)

Top marks for the correct answer!

2nd April 2014

A WHALE of a time!

Every other Saturday, CCC Montserrat is at Brades’ Library for the Environmental Kids Workshops and this week we had a whale of a time!

 

Humpback whales, or Big-winged new englanders as their latin name Megaptera novaeangliae describes them, travel thousands of kilometres each year to come and spend the winter months in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean. Three of those gentle giants were spotted last week by our CCC Montserrat team while breaching loudly and happily out of the water. This was inspiration enough to have “Whales” as topic for this week’s Library Workshop.

 

Did you know that the hippos are the closest living relatives of whales or that whales are the only mammals that have adapted to live in the open oceans? Did you know that whales are amazing animals and remarkable record breakers: that the Blue whale has a heart the size of a big cow, the Sperm whale has the largest brain of any animal on Earth or that the male Humpback sings the longest and most complex songs of the animal kingdom?

 

Kids at this week Library workshop learned all of this and many more informative facts about whales: their evolution as hooved land mammals; the difference between baleen whales and toothed whales; and between dolphins and porpoises; why Humpback whales come to the Caribbean and what they do while they are here; how they feed, breed, sleep as well as some of their most common surface behaviour; why so many are endangered and what threats whales are facing today.

 

The kids and adults showed great interest during the presentation, asked many interesting questions and enthusiastically joined the crafts session for the making of paper whale puppets. The result was a very detailed Grey whale, one Beluga calf, couple of Humpback whales, a Sea monster-whale and few more very colourful new whale species. Once our creative whale pod completed, the group enjoyed the delicious snacks provided by the Library.

31st March 2014

Happy Birthday SBSMMA!

CCC would like to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Sogod Bay Sustainable Marine Management Alliance (SBSMMA) in the Philippines. It was the 2nd anniversary of the founding of the alliance at the end of March and CCC’s project scientist was pleased to be in attendance at the celebrations. The alliance was established to unify the management of marine resources within Sogod Bay. Since its inception in 2012 it has accomplished some notable achievements such as developing the Unified Fisheries Ordinance (UFO) to consolidate fishing regulations in the bay. Present at the celebrations was the Honourable Governor Roger Mercado who is a big supporter of the alliance’s work.

 

On this special day, the SBSMMA was proud to donate to the municipalities around the bay, 50 boat engines, wet weather gear and demarcation signs to be used for MPA management. This new equipment in combination with on-going training, community awareness, and resource allocation will undoubtedly lead to sustainable and effective management initiatives. Over the coming years the SBSMMA hopes that Sogod Bay will become the healthiest bay in the nation and the number one eco-tourism destination in the Eastern Visayas. CCC is proud to support the alliance with all of its work and is looking forward to the future!

25th March 2014

A Wheely Good Cause!

Coral Cay Conservation Cambodia Reef Tropical Expedition Diving Community Outreach Fundraising © Pash Baker. www.pashbaker.co.uk

In November this year our very own Ben Thorne, Field Base Manager on the Cambodia site is embarking on a true adventure in support of the International Childcare Trust (ICT). In an effort to protect the rights of the worlds most marginalised children, Ben, his brother and many other dedicated fundraisers are cycling 538km over 8 days from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Since he started working on our site a year ago, Ben has seen first-hand how tough life can be for children from impoverished communities. Inspired by these experiences he has opted to take on this tough physical challenge and help support the work of ICT to care for the world’s most vulnerable children.

 

We at CCC are very proud of Ben’s efforts and pleased to be able to spread the word about such a good cause. If you would like to offer a donation, however big or small, please visit the donation page. Anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated!

 

For more information on the ride check out ICT's website

 

Good luck Ben!

17th March 2014

Reef Restoration in Napantao

Following the recent storms of late 2013 and early 2014 in the Philippines, CCC staff members have noticed an increase in coral damage within the Napantao MPA.  Storms bring large waves and strong currents, which can break existing reef structures and may reduce recruitment of new corals to the area.  With the approval of the local Mayor, CCC staff and volunteers have begun re-attaching recently broken-off and still living coral to free substrate within the MPA.  

The chosen method to attach coral fragments to rock is relatively cheap, easy, and has been used in other locations both in Sogod Bay and on coral reefs worldwide.  A concrete nail is placed in free substrate, then living coral fragments are attached to the nail using a cable tie.  As the coral grows onto the rock it will cover the nail and gain enough stability to support itself in the water.  CCC members have recorded the location of these “recruits” and will measure sub-samples monthly to determine their growth and success.  This is an excellent, natural way to restore the reef following storm damage and will provide useful data on coral growth here in Sogod Bay.

13th March 2014

An unexpected day in Napantao

Often there are times in the Philippines when one gets invited to unexpected events or celebrations.   Stakeholder’s Day 2014 at Napantao Elementary was one such event.  For a couple weeks in February, the students had been raising funds for a new computer room for their school.  In order to celebrate the donations they had raised, the teachers, Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) and the students had 2 days of celebrations.  Josephine and Kelly, our Education Officer and one of our volunteers attended the opening ceremonies on February 28th.  Complete with a school marching band and baton twirlers, the school, PTA, and barangay officials paraded through the village to begin the celebrations.  The ceremonies were followed by messages from the principal, PTA president, and Coral Cay’s EO, and then a raising of banners for the Yellow Team and Red Team.  The two teams then competed in an exciting Cheerdance competition to end the opening ceremonies.  

That evening, Josephine and Kelly returned with Olly and Beatrice, our Scuba Instructor and another volunteer, to behold the Coronation Night.  The top fundraisers were crowned the Napantao Elementary School Prince and Princess 2014, while 7 runners up were named their damas.  After the runners up and Prince and Princess marched to the stage, the evening proceeded with a Literary Musical Contest.  The children’s parents had been divided into two teams and competed in five competitions:  vocal solo, duet, doble kara, modern dance and folk dance.  Olly and Beatrice were invited to be judges for the contests.  The students in the coronation procession were absolutely adorable in their formal dress and the parents put on a great show. The whole day concluded with a disco that lasted well into the night! It was a fantastic evening and a real pleasure to be involved in such a truly unique Filipino experience!

10th March 2014

Fred's Anabelle shown for the first time!

Since the end of last year CCCs Science Officer, Josephine Chenghas been working closely with students from Estela High school to complete their SEAS programme. This three tiered programme teaches the students about marine conservation and actively requires them to create an environmental committee and further promote conservation in their local community.

With this in mind Estela High’s environmental committee decided to put on a puppet show to engage their school in environmental issues.  As part of the SEAS program, the school was required to plan an open day or community event to educate others about environmental issues and promote marine conservation.  To achieve the Silver Seastar Level, they decided to put on a puppet show that exhibited some of the threats faced by a coral reef and the benefits of an MPA.  The students were very eager to start their work towards Silver Seastar and to put on a great show.  They had the honour of performing the first-ever showing of Coral Cay’s new puppet show, “Fred’s Anabelle,” in which Anabelle, the daughter of Fred and Fiona the anemone fishes, ventures outside of the MPA to see the marine world.  She makes some new friends along the way and learns some of the ways the sea creatures in the coral reef are threatened by human threats.  In the end, Anabelle asks the audience for their help in protecting the coral reefs and the MPA. 

 

In just one week, the students had rehearsed, created a set and puppets, and were ready to show it to the rest of the school.  Josephine, attended their dress rehearsal and helped them put together the final touches to the puppets.  The students proudly showed off their hard work and put on a fantastic show which was thoroughly enjoyed by all!

5th March 2014

CCC in print

This month CCC was pleased to be included in the most recent edition of the Cambodian Journal of Natural History, as a news story detailing our hosting and delivery of a workshop to establish a national monitoring methodology for Cambodian reefs.

 

Our survey work in Cambodia over the last few years has focused on the Koh Rong Archipelago. The data we have collected has been used by the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries administration (FiA) in the establishment of the country’s first large scale Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA). The workshop brought together many parties including the FiA, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and other international NGOs to discuss a national framework for marine surveys.

 

The Cambodian Journal of Natural History was launched by FFI and the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2008 as Cambodia’s first peer-reviewed publication. It aims to provide Cambodian and international scientists with a platform to publish findings and engage with a wider academic audience regarding Cambodian natural history.

 

The coming months are going to be very busy for the CCC Cambodia team and we are extremely hopeful to have more papers published in the journal in the near future.

 

To find out more about the journal or to read past issues follow the link:

Cambodian Journal of Natural History

3rd March 2014

Invasion on the Emerald Isle!

As part of our on-going environmental education programme in Montserrat the CCC team held a new workshop on the 22nd of February at the Montserrat Public Library in the main town of Brades.

 

This week’s theme was ‘Invasive species’, i.e. plants or animals which have established and spread outside of their native distributional range and have adverse effects on their new habitat. The presentation was lead by Science Officer Anna Zuke with a special focus on Montserrat and the impact Lionfish (Pterois sp) and the Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) have on the environment there. The CCC team was very happy to see that a large number of kids as well as a few adults participated actively, learning about native species vs. non-native species, how invasive species arrive in a new place as well as humane ways to prevent and control them.

The workshop continued with an arts and crafts session during which the kids had the enjoyable assignment of creating their very own invasive Cane Toads and Lionfishes! All the kids, aged 4 to 13, worked very hard, using paper models, crayons, scissors, glue, more glue and wooden clothespins for stunning outcomes.

 

Many of the children demonstrated great familiarity with the Cane Toad, learned a lot about the Lionfish and, by the end of the session all of them were able to identify the characteristics of these animals that have made them successful invaders. Even their paper versions succeeded in spreading quickly all over the island and can now be spotted in the kids’ homes! 

26th February 2014

From anemones to ear infections

Last year the CCC Philippines team was very fortunate to welcome Raju Raman and Zoe Hulme, who joined the expedition as medical officers. Following their time on site they have written an article on their experiences of working on a conservation project in the tropics. This has been recently been published on theadventuremedic.com. To read the full article, follow the link below:

 

http://www.theadventuremedic.com/adventures/coral-cay-conservation/

24th February 2014

Backyard Birding in the Caribbean!

The 14th – 17th of February was the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)! Started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society the GBBC was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and display these results in near-real time. Every February, bird watchers from all around the world join the 4 day count to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of global bird populations.

This year Coral Cay Conservation are proud to have taken part in the GBBC, from the glorious backyard of the Montserrat Ridge to Reef Conservation Project (MRRCP)! We’ve had our terrestrial team of trained volunteers out in the forests and coastal survey sites of the emerald isle spotting some interesting and exciting avids.

 

One of the most interesting sites that we have recently undertaken on Montserrat is the Piper’s Pond Wetland site. Piper’s pond is one of the few remaining wetland sites on island, following the loss of land to pyroclastic flows as a result of the 1995 volcanic eruptions. As such it is a valuable source of information and data to find out exactly which species are utilising this now rare and scarce habitat.

 

Today, Pipers Pond is at the heart of the new port and recreational developments in the northern part of the island. It is currently providing some of the last remaining, known, intact wetland habitat for migrating and breeding wetland bird species on Montserrat. Coral Cay survey teams are watching the site with great interest at the request of the Government of Montserrat’s Environment Department and have been clocking up some appealing and unusual bird sightings! Lightning fast Peregrine Falcons, shy Yellow Crowned Night Herron and the ever charming Belted Kingfisher.

 

Not only are these trails and shore bird point count locations contributing to the regular weekly survey schedule of the MRRCP but they feed into a much larger global bird population database via the ebird online data base. In this way the observations made by Coral Cay will not only provide information on how birds are using habitat locally on Montserrat but will also help to build a bigger picture of where and when some species are moving through the Caribbean on migratory paths or overwintering stops.

 

Check out www.ebird.org to look at near-real time hotspot and occurrence maps for anywhere in the world! You can also use this to keep a track of the bird surveys from the CCC Montserrat team.

20th February 2014

Reef Rangers programme back with a bang!

Following on from the successes of last year the first Reef Rangers event of 2014 was held on our site at the start of Febuary. The 3rd and 4th year students from Estela National High School came to Napantao eager to learn and to snorkel. Nine students (Marvic, Gressil, Nestle, Gizelle, Mechiel, Krisnny Joy, Daisyvil, Jellie and Mariz) and three teachers (Ma’am Desmie, Ma’am Sara, and Sir Edwin) came to the CCC base to learn more about the amazing reefs of Sogod Bay. During the classroom session students learnt topics such as coral and fish anatomy and how to identify them, food chains, threats faced by coral reefs and management measures to protect them.

With the lesson complete, the students and teachers were eager to see what they had learnt in the flesh. Armed with snorkels, masks and life vests they followed CCC volunteers and staff into the water to explore the wonders below the waves. This was an experience all of the students and teachers had been looking forward to and it did not disappoint. In defiance of the slightly chilly water everyone thoroughly enjoyed seeing the beauty that is the Napantao MPA reef.

 

Back on dry land and after lunch the Reef Rangers made and presented posters about one fish they had seen underwater. This was followed by a competitive round of our MPA board game, in which the students discussed different scenarios that are harmful or beneficial to reef ecosystems. The day ended with certificates being presented to all of the Reef Ranger students before they headed back home. An awesome day was had by all!

6th February 2014

A night to remember!

On 27th January it was the anniversary of the founding of Napantao and what better way
to celebrate than with lots of singing and dancing! All of the members of the barangay showed up for a talent show. The 5 puroks (divisions within the barangay) competed in 5 different categories – solo singing, doble karo (one singer sings as a man and a woman), poetry reciting, folk dancing, and modern dancing. Our very own field base manager, Claire Ogg, was proudly invited to be Head Judge. The acts were thoroughly entertaining and elicited much enthusiasm from the audience!

The acts culminated with CCC staff and volunteers putting on the Fred the Fish puppet show for the barangay. With our dive instructor/compressor operator, Jesse, narrating the story in Visayan, and our Science Officer Julia reading the part of Fred the anemone fish, we were able to entertain the barangay with a fun story about marine conservation. The celebration continued into the night with…Disco Disco Disco! Lots of fun and excitement had by all! CCC staff and volunteers were happy to have been invited to be part of such a fun community celebration.