29 August 2016

Sudmon Elementary School Gold Sea Stars Community Clean up!

On August 29th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay and Expedition Management Intern, Gareth Turner, went back to Sudmon in San Francisco to bring the blossoming Sea Star students up to level three Gold Sea Stars. 


The event was a hit with a scavenger hunt run by Gareth Turner, a showing of the BBC documentary Blue Planet, and a community rubbish clean up.


All the students participated and managed to collect almost 20 rice sacks full of rubbish!


All of these fantastic Sea Stars are now Gold level conservationists and the entire class was presented with a framed certificate proving their Gold Sea Stars status!  Great work!

27 August 2016

Learning all about Hummingbirds!

© Rory Graham

Last week’s famous CCC library session focused on ‘Hummingbirds & other flying things’ at the library in Brades. The Hummingbirds discussed were the 3 that are found on island: The Green Throated Carib, the Purple Throated Carib and the Antillean Crested Hummingbird. They are 'New world birds' meaning they are only found on this side of the Atlantic and fly at speeds up to 34 mph, which is faster than the speed limit on Montserrat!


This session was also a great opportunity to talk about the flying mammals that can be found on Montserrat, namely, bats. Science Officer, Emily, is passionate about bats and spoke about the fact that bats are the only native mammals on the island, and named the ten species found on island, including the endemic subspecies of the yellow shouldered bat Sturnira thomasi vulcanenis


Attendance was very high despite it still being the school holidays, with approximately 12 very enthusiastic children. For the craft session the group all made hummingbird feeders from old spice jars and ginger beer bottles with a tiny straw to allow sugar water to come out. It is hoped that these will attract hummingbirds during the day and bats at night to the children’s gardens.

25 August 2016

A Presentation of the Catig MPA results to the Liloan LGU

Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, recently gave a presentation of Catig's Proposed MPA results for the Liloan Local Government Unit (LGU).  This presentation was requested by Ma’am Benie Dipay of the MAO in Liloan on behalf of the Chairman for the LGU, who runs a special committee on agriculture and fisheries. 


This presentation was previously created and delivered by past Project Scientist Shannon Cameron in the Catig Barangay where the MPA has been proposed, but the officials wanted a refresher. 


Currently, the LGU and Municipal government are working to create the ordinance to make the proposed MPA official.  The LGU is proposing that the MPA is managed by the community members rather than Barangay Officials, this is to ensure better continuity due to the fact that the three yearly elections create quite a high turnover in staff, which thereby also changes the barangays priorities.


The chairman of the LGU committee is also proposing the creation of a large Marine Reserve allowing only hook and line fishing around the MPA. This committee is particularly interested in protecting lobster which they believe would be a valuable commodity to protect and an interesting tourist draw for the Barangay.


The committee requested a visual assessment by CCC of an area just above the Catig proposed MPA to assess the area for lobster abundance and appropriate habitat.

19 August 2016

Sudmon Elementary School Get Their First Sea Stars lesson!

On 19th August the Philippines Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, visited Sudmon Elementary School to deliver the first of three Sea Stars lectures. Sea Stars is an educational program designed to teach our younger locals about the reefs and what they can do to protect them. The students learned about coral reef biology, the fact that corals are animals, not plants or rocks, and why coral reefs are important for the environment and humans.  Jesse will be heading back to Sudmon two more times to bring these Sea Stars up to gold status and invite them to a Reef Rangers workshop at our Napantao field base.

13 August 2016

Learning all about Octopus!

This week’s library session theme was Octopus. The presentation covered the key facts about octopus, the children actually already knew that they have bird-like beaks and that they use ink as a defence mechanism. The children were amazed by octopus anatomy, particularly when told about them having three brains and 9 hearts! The world’s largest octopus and the world’s smallest octopus was covered, as was the Dumbo Octopus, which Emily subsequently re-created out of playdough in the art and crafts session following. The children seemed shocked by how small and big octopus could be; some children started drawing angler fish and octopus during the presentation and asking which would win in a fight. It was nice to see them engaging in the topic.

© Rory Graham.

The craft session involved making octopus out of playdough, in any shape, colour and size that the children decided on. We had octopus with hats, cooking pans and cannons on top of their heads and we also had an octopus that lived in space, with a mobile phone to keep in contact with the rest of the universe, and 16 legs. This octopus was called the Krakken and managed to steal a lot of the other octopus’s legs from around the table. The children then took their creations home to bake in the oven so that they could then keep them forever and always be reminded of their exciting octopus-themed library session.

12 August 2016

CCC presents its findings at Barangay Punta

Last week Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, and Expedition Management Intern, Gareth Turner, headed to Barangay Punta to deliver a presentation of survey results.  The presentation was well attended by the Barangay Captain Benny, several Barangay officials and many locals and their children.  CCC recommended the current MPA be expanded to include the surveyed area outside of the MPA.  At present there is no significant trend towards greater abundance of fish or hard coral inside the MPA.  This may suggest that the MPA is too young to see the impacts of protection, too small to effectively protect species, or experiencing too much illegal fishing within the MPA boundaries.  Barangay Captain Benny was interested in keeping the same size of MPA but perhaps moving the boundaries to protect a healthier area of reef.  Based on this request, the CCC science team is currently working on recommendations to facilitate boundary adjustments that will accommodate the ecological and social needs of the area.  Darienne will head back to Punta in a few weeks’ time to offer suggestions on how to amend the current MPA.

CAASAFI High School Achieve Silver Sea Stars Status

12 August 2016

On August 12th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay and volunteer, Rachel Pederson went to CAASAFI San Francisco High School to deliver the second Sea Stars lecture.  This lesson brings the high school up to level two (silver status) Sea Stars.  The students learned about climate change and threats to reefs and how to protect them.  Only one more lecture and the students will be eligible for gold Sea Star status which involves a trip to our Napantao field base to become Reef Rangers and the development of an environmental stewardship committee.  Great work CAASAFI!

12 August 2016

CCC help out with a Project Aware Cleaning Campaign at Carr's Bay

© Rory Graham. The dive team strike a pose at the end of the clean up!

Charley (from the Montserrat based dive company Island Divers) has officially adopted Carr’s Bay through the project aware scheme so is aiming to do a monthly clean there. Coral Cay were invited and it was the best clean up event so far. Three divers helped with the event. The dive team brought up 38kg of rubbish, including an old anchor! The land based team collected 8kg. Just from looking at the beach it's clear that we are making a difference doing these beach cleans, there is less rubbish on the beach in general and while we picked up a lot of rubbish this time there is less on the reef in general. Unfortunately people still seem to just throw rubbish on the beach, but hopefully just by seeing us there tackling the problem this attitude will change and Carr’s Bay will be one of the highlights of Montserrat again.

06 August 2016

Maasin Football Match – Round 2

Word of the indomitable Coral Cay Conservation Football Club spread far and wide after our first match in Maasin at the end of June, and as a result, the Coral Cay FC was invited back to Maasin for another round on August 6th.  The Coral Cay team had picked up a few new recruits since their first match and arrived on the field with an impressive twelve-person team.   The games were rapid fire: six on six for twenty-minute games.  Coral Cay came out strong at the start of the first match, pushing back hard against the competitive Maasin team.  Keeper/Scuba Instructor, Dom Revell, parried shot after shot with ninja like confidence.  Our twelve-person team allowed for frequent substitutions, which kept our team fresh and on the attack.  However, a single goal from the Maasin team snuck between the crossbars late in the second half leaving the final score 1-0 for Maasin.

Coral Cay FC post match photo, what a handsome bunch! © G. Turner

However, Coral Cay FC was just warming up.  After a fantastic Filipino lunch of fish, chicken, pork, and rice, provided by the welcoming Maasin organizers, both teams geared up for round two.


The second match was even more heated than the last, with Maasin and Coral Cay going head to head, vying for the championship.  A sneaky goal from the Maasin team crept in halfway through the game.  However, Coral Cay hit back hard with a killer goal by Gareth “Predator” Turner, assisted by Dani “The Wall” Contrada.  Tied 1-1 the clock ticked down with Mena Kaharuddin and Ion Bacabac trading back and forth the same pair of shoes to kick the Maasin team to the curb.  Dani “The Wall” took some hard hits to keep back the Maasin offence but Coral Cay couldn’t hold back a final goal from Maasin late in the game.  Final score was a tight 2-1 for Maasin.


Although Coral Cay FC didn’t win against Maasin this time, they did take away a great sense of accomplishment in their incredible improvement and the great fun of sharing a match with such a talented and friendly Maasin team.  Until next time Maasin!


Author: Project Scientist Darienne Lancaster

05 August 2016

The Philippines Site Comes Under Siege from Scouts!

On August 5th approximately 185 scouts from San Francisco and surrounding barangays arrived at the Coral Cay base for a morning full of marine conservation lectures, an introduction to SCUBA diving, and a chance to breathe under water for the first time!


The scouts arrived at 8am and received a brief introduction to Coral Cay Conservation and the Napantao MPA.  After the scouts settled in, Field Base Manage, Claire Ogg challenged the scouts to do 5 push-ups for the 22/22 challenge, an event designed to bring awareness to the fact that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.  The kids eagerly leapt to the task, and afterwards, Claire introduced the kids to SCUBA equipment, explaining the various parts of the kit, as well as explaining how it lets you breath underwater.  

© Rachel Pedersen

Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, then took over and gave the group a lecture on coral biology and lifeforms, the local fish, and why Marine Protected Areas are important.  The kids enthusiastically pointed out the fish they recognized on the educational presentation banners and proudly proclaimed their knowledge that coral was an animal when asked by Jesse. 


The morning’s final event was the opportunity to use a regulator and breathe underwater in the “bubble tanks”.  Jesse filled buckets full of water, sand, coral skeletons, and shells, and all of the kids had the opportunity to don a mask and make bubbles as they breathed through a regulator. 


The scouts said farewell at about 11am after a fun-filled, educational day.


Author: Volunteer - Rachel Pedersen

04 August 2016

CCC Volunteers Help to Create the First Large-Scale MPA in Cambodia!

Today's main story is dedicated to all of the staff and volunteers who joined Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) on our Cambodia Site on Koh Rong. It has been a long journey (as these things always are) but we are very happy to announce that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) have declared a 405 km2 area within the Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem regions in Cambodia, as the country's first large scale Marine Fisheries Management Area (MFMA)!

CCC were based in the Koh Rong archipelago from 2010 - 2014 at the invitation of the Fisheries Administration (FiA), and worked closely with the FiA, MAFF, MCC, the Song Saa Foundation, and last but by no means least our in country partners Fauna and Flora International. The data collected by CCC volunteers was used to make recommendations as to where best to place the MFMA. The globally recognised Reef Check survey method was used to quantify the abundance, diversity and composition of selected ‑fishes, invertebrates and benthic species, and CCC applied an approach to highlight particular areas of conservation interest. 

The successful creation of the MFMA is testament to the culmination of a consultation process between stakeholders, conservation organisations, government agencies and the local community. This process has taken into consideration the importance of protecting the future of the marine life of the Koh Rong Archipelago, whilst balancing this with the needs of the local communities - people who rely on the ocean for food and economic security. This balance has been achieved through the implementation of an effective but sympathetic 'zonation scheme' which divides the MFMA into areas of different usage - community fishing, recreational, no-take, conservation and multi use, whilst outlawing destructive fishing methods throughout the entire MFMA. 

We can't wait to see the positive impact that the MFMA will have on Cambodia's waters and feel so proud that we were able to assist in this venture. All of CCC's work is compiled into scientific reports so if you are interested in reading more about the research and analysis that went into making our MFMA recommendations check out the Cambodia section on the Reports page.

30 July 2016

Learning all about Snakes!

© Carolyn Bircher

Science Officer, Emily Stebbings, was at the helm for Montserrat’s most recent library education session and picked the sssssseriously cool subject of snakes, those found on both land and sea. It was a quieter session than usual because the school have broken up for summer and lots of the kids are away on holiday, but the few who did attend were very interested and engaged. After the lesson, the students had great fun making a paper snake mobile. Special thanks have to go to our fantastic helpers from the college group that recently joined us from Scotland. 

Napantao Community Day and Presentation of Survey Results

25 July 2016

© Darienne Lancaster

On July 25th Barangay officials and community members from Napantao arrived at the Coral Cay Conservation base for a day of games, marine education, and a presentation of survey results from the 2015 assessment of the Napantao Marine Protected Area.


After a scavenger hunt and marine themed charades the group settled in for lectures on coral biology and lifeforms, native fish species, threats to coral reefs, and ways to protect them.  Coral Cay volunteers and staff took turns lecturing and sharing their love of the oceans with the local visitors.


The MPA egg game was also a big hit. This was designed by (scholar) Dionn Hubag, and involves protecting a raw egg (representing an MPA) with found materials before the opposite team attempts to smash it against the ground. 

© Claire Ogg

Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, also gave a presentation of results from the 2015 assessment of the Napantao MPA.  Overall the reef is very healthy but there is no difference in fish abundance inside compared to outside the MPA and there are no big fish in the area.  This suggests the MPA is not as effective as it could be if enforcement was increased and fishing pressure decreased.  Barangay Officials requested maps of the MPA boundaries be posted at the Barangay Office and on the beach so local fishers know where the MPA starts and ends.


The day was topped off by a snorkel adventure along the Napantao house reef.  The snorkelers visited Anemone City to see the clown fish and pointed out all the coral lifeforms they learned about during the morning presentations.  

23 July 2016

Dive Against Debris at Ghost Town

© Rachel Pedersen

Last week volunteers Danielle Contrada and Rachel Pederson headed out to the Ghost Town dive site in Barangay Santa Paz, San Francisco for a Dive Against Debris. Dive Against Debris is an important campaign to prevent rubbish from affecting coral reefs.  Plastics can smother corals and choke animals like turtles that often eat them by accident. The divers managed to collect over 40 pieces of trash in a single dive!  Items collected included pots, a toy truck, a baking tray, plastic bags, and hard plastic debris.  Great work keeping our oceans clean!

22 July 2016

CAASAFI High School Enjoy their First SeaStars Lesson

© Alex Wady

On July 22nd Community Liaison Officer Jesse Tinapay along with his assistant volunteer Alex Wady, headed to CAASAFI High School in San Francisco to give the first of three Sea Stars marine education lectures.  Jesse and Alex taught students in two different classes all about the marine life they can find in the oceans near them, as well as talking about threats to the oceans and tools they can use to protect the marine environment. This first lecture qualified the two groups of students as Bronze Star level Sea Stars. With each consecutive lecture the students will move up a level, eventually being certified as Gold Star Sea Stars, at this point the students will be invited to the CCC base in Napantao to participate in a Reef Rangers day. Jesse, Alex and the students had a great day playing games and learning about the ocean creatures and coral reefs that surround their town.

1 July 2016

Maasin Anniversary Celebration Parade

Photo credit - J.Tinapay

This month Coral Cay Conservation took part in the annual Maasin Anniversary Celebration Parade. Darienne Lancaster (Project Scientist), Maryann Watson (Science Officer), Jesse Tinapay (Communications Liasion Officer) and Gareth Turner (CCC Expedition Management Intern) all got to join the event. The parade was celebrating 56 years since the founding of Maasin in 1960.  The Coral Cay Team marched from downtown, Maasin Plaza, all the way to the Capital with the help of their fishy puppets.  It was a great chance to say hello to the people of Maasin, including the Maasin Senior Citizens Group who posed for a photo with the team.  We also found some fantastic helpers in the form of enthusiastic kids from the crowd, who carried our fishy puppets most of the way to the Capital.

30 June 2016

CCC head to Molopolo Fish Sanctuary

Before heading to Maasin for the annual parade Coral Cay headed to the Molopolo Fish Sanctuary for a snorkel.  This longstanding MPA has won numerous awards for the quality of its marine protection and biodiversity.  Coral Cay staff and volunteers hopped into the shallow waters to check out the amazing sea grass beds and sea urchins, and to search for stingrays.   They then headed out into deeper water to look for the black-tipped reef sharks and see the beautiful reef.  Molopolo Fish Sanctuary is an important Marine Protected Area because of its sea grass beds which provide essential nursery habitats for young fish before they move out onto the reef or into open water.  


This sanctuary is also working on a mangrove restoration project by replanting small mangrove trees along the shoreline.  Mangroves offer protection from waves and strong storms and are one of the best ways to prevent coastal erosion.

30 June 2016

CCC join in the Annual Maasin Football Match, Philippines

On June 30th the Coral Cay team headed to Maasin to participate in a friendly football match against a local, Maasin team.  Coral Cay’s team was small with only 8 players to their competitors 19.  Unpracticed and without proper gear, Coral Cay made up for their lack of training with ample enthusiasm and determination.   The Maasin competitors were also very generous and let us borrow their star keeper to defend our net.  The game was off to a good start until Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, scored an amazing goal on her own team.  Nevertheless, the Coral Cay team rallied and pushed back against their well-honed Maasin opponents! Despite the pouring rain and lack of substitute players, Coral Cay fought hard and managed to survive two halves. Volunteer Alex Wady, assisted by Science Officer, Maryann Watson, scored an impressive goal at the end of the last half, which brought the final score to 8-1 for Maasin.  The Maasin team was both extremely skilled and very sportsmanlike and the game finished with friendly handshakes, congratulations, and a photo to commemorate the epic match!

08 June 2016

World Ocean's Day!

In honour of World Ocean’s Day on June 8th, CCC Philippines Science Officer, Maryann Watson, organized a beach clean-up on our house beach in Napantao. The entire crew showed up in the afternoon ready to get started.  In less than one hour the team managed to collect eight rice bags of garbage.  The trash included items like plastic bags, candy wrappers, plastic cups, fishing line, and bottle caps.  After our successful clean up these objects are no longer a threat to house reef and the animals, like sea turtles, who live there. Good job team!

02 June 2016

Blue Halo Meet and Greet

CCC staff: Rory Graham (Project Scientist), Peta Day (Science Officer) and Emily Stebbings (Science Officer) recently attended a meet and greet with Blue Halo. Blue Halo and the Waitt institute has recently had a management change so the main focus of the event was to introduce the new Executive Director, Kathryn Mengerink,  and the new Campaign and Outreach Manager, Ute Zischka. After introductions were made the right honourable Claude Hogan spoke at length about what Blue Halo does and the impact it will hopefully have on Montserrat in the remaining years on the island.


Towards the end of this he officially launched the Montserrat SCUBA award. This is the collaboration between CCC and Blue Halo to create a legacy on the island. It has been opened up to 15 places plus Claude Hogan who is acting as spokesperson for the scheme. CCC hopes that this will train up more Montserratians in diving and surveying ready to take over CCC’s role once our work is completed.

01 June 2016

Barangay  Candayuman survey results presentation

Project Scientist (PS), Darienne Lancaster, and Community Liaison Officer (CLO), Jesse Tinapay, recently gave a short presentation of the results of our visual assessment of the Candayuman proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) site.  The site was deemed unsuitable for a MPA since it is believe that a landslide in 1999 buried the seamount that was once located there.  Currently, the proposed site is unfortunately almost completely sand and silt.  There were a few patches of rock and coral and sparse animal life.  CCC proposed expanding the proposed MPA area to include areas with greater complexity; selecting a new MPA site; or attempting coral restoration using frames and coral planting.


The community were not interested in expanding or choosing a new MPA location and they were concerned about the costs of a coral restoration project.  Darienne suggested Jesse return to the barangay with a Sea Stars Lecture on coral restoration in the schools and propose a coral restoration project for the local students.  This would be more of a conservation learning opportunity than a concerted effort towards creating a full reef ecosystem in the proposed MPA area.


The community was happy with these suggestions and thanked the presenters for their visit and information.

31 May 2016

Punta Community Day

At the end of May young and old from Barangay Punta headed back to their old Barangay location, abandoned after Typhoon Yolanda.  The beautiful beach location was the perfect setting for a Coral Cay Conservation community day.  The day started off with a beach scavenger hunt organized by (volunteer) Jack Walton and a wild round of charades headed up by (Expedition Manager Intern) Gareth Turner.  Then the community settled down for some lectures on coral reef ecology, lifeforms, fish, and dangerous marine animals before heading out for a snorkel in the beautiful Punta MPA.


After a snorkel with a few recently trained Punta Reef Rangers who turned up for another round of coral reef education, everyone settled in for a nice lunch.  In the afternoon the winners of the Punta MPA logo contest were selected.  First place winner took home a Coral Cay t shirt and a bag of sweets.  Second place took home a t shirt and third place took home some sweets.

The highlight of the day was the MPA Egg Game, designed by (scholar) Dionn Hubag.  Community members were given an egg (representing an MPA) and five minutes to use found materials to protect it.  Then teams swapped eggs and tried to destroy the other teams’ egg “MPA”.  After a vigorous round of egg tossing only one MPA egg survived!


Finally, the day was finished off with a food chain race; lectures on food chains, the importance of coral reefs, threats to coral reefs, and how we can protect them; and a round of marine themed Pictionary.


Overall it was an amazing day with the community of Punta.