14 December 2016

Christmas Comes Early to Napantao!

On the 14th of December Janie Morton (SO), Andrea Gaurana (Scholar) and all the other members of CCC organised an evening of Christmas themed games for the children of Napantao, which saw a surprise visit from CCC’s very own Santa Clause, aka. Marco Galliani (SI).

 

After chowing down some popcorn and a light refreshment, the children of Napantao needed all their balance and hand eye coordination to succeed in the first activity of the evening which involved an egg and spoon inspired relay race.  Following minimal spillages, the next game required the children to race each other with a balloon between their legs; with the first team to finish receiving Santa prizes.  The action didn’t stop there however, as a treasure hunt consisting of various clues spread around the Barangay, saw the kids scatter energetically all over Napantao. 

Balloon filling duties fall to Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, and Compressor Operator, Jose Ydel. Photo courtesy of Jesse Tinapay
Jesse Tinapay (CLO) can hardly contain his excitement as Santa Clause (Marco Galliani (SI)) makes a surprise visit to Napantao. Photo courtesy of Jamie Parker

Two new, music infused activities were introduced once everyone returned; musical statues saw contestants piggy backing each other in order to progress to the next stage, followed by a classic round of pass the parcel, a game many of the children were unfamiliar with to start with.

 

The last parcel to be opened signalled the end of a wonderful evening for all those involved.  Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, each child went home happy and in high spirits with a CCC Christmas goody bag.

12 December 2016

CCC join the MPARG Limasawa MPA ordinance workshop

On the 12th and 13th of December CCC’s Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, accompanied Alessia Kockel of the Marine Protected Area Research Group (MPARG) and Sir Armando Gaviola  of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO) to Limasawa, to help establish and validate the coordinates for proposed and established MPAs surrounding the island.

 

The first day brought together Barangay representatives and community members from Triana, San Ricardo, San Agustin and Cabulihan.  Prior to the workshop, where attendees were able to see their chosen MPA location on the big screen, GPS coordinates were taken at the desired boundaries while circling the island.  Having seen the MPA dimensions for each of the proposed sites, community members were keen to discuss aspects such as area flexibility, fishing methods and policing logistics.  These were encouraging signs coming from an area of Southern Leyte that depends heavily upon fishing as a form of livelihood and protein.  

MPARG’s Alessia Kockel guides Limasawa police representatives through the process of GPS marking. Photo courtesy of Armando Gaviola

The next day, Alessia Kockel offered an introductory GPS marking tutorial to three members of the Limasawa police department.  By circling the MPA, members were shown how to take an accurate GPS reading; an integral skill to have when needing to apprehend those carrying out illegal fishing. 

 

Overall, the people of Limasawa were heavily involved in the spatial planning for the proposed MPAs; this transparent and unified understanding for the projects serves well as a foundation for the MPA development process.

10 December 2016

Barangay Cuasi Community Day

Photo courtesy of Jamie Parker

On the 10th of December all CCC staff members and volunteers travelled to Barangay Cuasi in San Francisco to present the findings of Cuasi’s proposed MPA site during an action packed community day.

 

After introducing themselves to the Cuasi community, with some light basketball action; CCC scholar, Andrea Gaurana, entertained the children with a few games of fish Pictionary.  This was followed by an energy filled scramble for treasures during a team scavenger hunt which saw community members of all ages taking part.  Fun and games were swapped momentarily for a few coral reef lectures, presented by Jesse Tinapay (Community Liaison Officer), which focused on marine lifeforms and food-chains in addition to outlining why CCC are working here in the Philippines. Cuasi’s locals’ newfound food-chain knowledge was then put to the test during the CCC’s ‘blindfold food-chain challenge’, which also had guest appearances form CCC’s very own Janie Morton (Science Officer) and Matt Pearcey (Volunteer).  

Photo courtesy of Jamie Parker

Next on the day’s agenda was the important matter of Cuasi’s proposed MPA survey results; findings were presented by Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, and were met with a positive reaction from both community and barangay official members.  Cuasi’s reef was deemed to be in good health, but could benefit substantially from added protection.  Of course, a barangay community day is never complete without the ‘protect your egg MPA game’, which despite smothering their prized MPA eggs in all manner of soft material, couldn’t prevent their delicate shells from breaking.

 

 

Overall, the day was a huge success with all CCC representatives getting involved within the community.  We hope that the community of Cuasi welcome their newly proposed MPA, with the same passion as they did they did for all of us at CCC.

09 December 2016

CCC Philippines Whale Shark Day!

Photo courtesy of Jamie Parker

In early December CCC staff, volunteers and scholars visited the waters surrounding San Ricardo, Pintuyan, in the hopes of finding the largest fish in the sea, the whale shark.

 

Having received confirmation from Sonok locals that whale sharks were in the area, the team set off early in the morning to investigate.  After picking up five local expert ‘whale shark spotters’ from Sonok, the Nudi Hunter ventured further South to see what they could find.  Sure enough, after 15 minutes or so of searching, the first whale shark of the day was spotted.  Snorkelers swam in awe of the 5m creature for almost 30 minutes! Before the gentle giant descended slowly to the depths.  For most on the boat it was the first time they had witnessed such a rare fish and it only increased everyone’s hunger to find more.  So after a quick lunch on-board, the team set out again into the waters of Southern Leyte, and it didn’t take long for another whale shark to swim on by. 

 

While the second sighting was only a brief one, the day as a whole will no doubt live long in the memory for all those who were lucky enough to be there.

04 December 2016

Learning all about the Forest Canopy

This week’s library session theme, constructed and presented by Science Officer, Derry Gibson, was on the Forest Canopy. The presentation highlighted where tropical rainforests can be found (and where Montserrat fits in) and what characteristics they exhibit, before moving on to the main topic of the talk, the forest canopy. The kids were quizzed on the names of the different layers and what lived within each layer and got great enjoyment by shouting their guesses trying to name the different organisms pictured.

The craft session involved the children painting their very own rainforest scene, followed by cutting out and painting animals that could be stuck to their painting. Everyone had a great time and for Derry and new Field Base Manager, Gareth Turner, it was a particularly nice opportunity to meet and connect for the first time with the kids we will be seeing over the coming months.

 

Photo courtesy of Marisa Sorrell

03 December 2016

Montserrat Science and Maths Fair

Today’s fair was the centrepiece event for the 2016 Montserrat Science and Maths Week, which has been running since Monday, and was very well attended by children of all ages from all over the island. The children themselves filled the auditorium with their own fascinating exhibits on a wide range of topics from statistics to potato powered lights, while CCC and the MVO (Montserrat Volcano Observatory) had their exhibits in the entrance foyer.

 

Susan Robertson (Field Base Manager- FBM) and our incoming FBM, Gareth Turner, stayed until midday to help finalise our display, to attend the opening ceremony and to assist with the first wave of children arriving, whilst Science Officer, Derry Gibson, stayed the entire day presenting and interacting with the kids.


Our topic of discussion for the day was Animal Adaptation, a comparison study between fish and birds (to compliment the main areas of focus of our Ridge to Reef programme) and the different ways each have adapted to the challenges of living in the marine environment and to flight.

 

The children were inquisitive and enthusiastic throughout and were particularly engaged with the countershading interactive piece and with the beak and food-source matching game. Children and adults alike all left having learned a lot.

 

02 December 2016

CCC Joins the Darwin-Plus-Supported Project Workshop

CCC recently joined a workshop with the Darwin-Plus-supported project, whose aim is ‘Maximising the long term survival prospects of Montserrat’s endemic species and ecosystem services’. This was the second workshop of a two year initiative for stakeholders to agree on a sustainable plan for the future management of the South of Montserrat. Project Scientist, Marisa Sorrell, got the chance to participate with the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum and other local organisations including local dive shops and key island stakeholders. The workshop looked at future potential activities on Montserrat such as control of invasive and feral animals, management of terrestrial and marine areas, sand-mining, plus cropping fruit trees, etc. It was a massive turn out, with ideas passed around between all the groups. It was a great chance for Marisa to promote the work CCC conducts and our importance on the island, and she had a great day networking and challenging the mind!

02 December 2016

Tuno Elementary School Seastars Lesson 1

On the 2nd of December Coral Cay Conservation’s Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, introduced the students of Tuno elementary to the wonders of coral reef ecology during their first Seastars lesson.

 

By starting with the basics, Jesse opened the eyes of each of the 40 students present, to the goings on beneath the waves. The fundamentals of coral biology were first touched upon before taking the kids through the plethora of fish found within the Philippines’ renowned coastal reefs.  One of the keys to promoting change and establishing a long lasting conservation plan, is to help inspire the younger generations.

 

Jesse will be visiting Tuno in the upcoming weeks before Christmas to impart more of his knowledge, with the hope that the students will the grab the opportunity when they are offered to join CCC members for their first Reef Rangers day on Napantao reef.

19 November 2016

UNICEF Universal Children's Day

Last week the Montserrat Children’s Society (MCS) held their annual children’s fun day to celebrate the UNICEF Universal Children’s day, with the aims to help children who have urgent health, social or educational needs regardless of race, nationality or disability. CCC had a fantastic chance to participate in this event. Field Base Manager, Susan, and Science Officer, Derry, put together a ‘fishing for prizes’ stall, where kids got to go fishing for sea trash, fish, and popcorn. Project Scientist, Marisa, practiced her creative side and face painted! MSC had a lot of support with many other activities including a children’s cricket match, and with all our help raised over $400. It was a wonderful day where children, adults and all those participating had a lot of fun! 

19 November 2016

Estela High School Reef Rangers Day

On November 19th CCC held a Reef Rangers activity day for the Estela High School at CCC’s Napantao base.  Twelve eager students along with two of their teachers arrived shortly after 8.30am. 

 

After a quick introductory tour of the CCC base, the students were eased into the day with a game of marine biology Pictionary.  Drawing skills were then swapped for hunting skills, as the kids rushed around site trying to collect all the objects in our Reef Rangers scavenger hunt.  Proceedings then took a more serious turn as CCC Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, guided the students through a series of slideshow lectures encompassing coral lifeforms, fish biology and dangerous marine creatures.  These lessons were in preparation for the students first ever snorkel on Napantao reef. Geared up and ready to go; the students made their way into the blue with some of them lucky enough to witness a passing 4m whale shark!  

After lunch the students were taught some more about the threats and importance of coral reefs, while also learning about the ways they can contribute to their conservation.  With this new found knowledge, the children were introduced to CCC’s favourite ‘blind fold food-chain challenge’ and quick-fire slap the answer contest.  Lastly, spirits were high when the students tried their best to protect their ‘MPA egg’, smothering it in the softest materials they could find.  Two intact eggs and a few Reef Ranger graduation photos later, a great day full of activities came to a close.

18 November 2016

CCC Join the Alliouagana Festival of the Word

Earlier this week, the CCC team got invited to join in Montserrat’s Alliouagana Festival of the Word. This annual event is a literary festival which celebrates artists, writers and musicians and fosters a love of writing in all generations on the island. Each year the festival centres around a theme, this years was Technology and the Word. Marisa Sorrell, CCC Project Scientist, was asked to talk about the technology used on the project and how it aids in conservation on the island. Many people from around the world came to join in this amazing festival to spread the importance of literature for all ages and professions. A great opportunity to promote CCC and talk about the amazing work being carried out in Montserrat!

16 November 2016

CCC join the JNCC GIS workshop

It has been a busy week for the Montserrat site, with various outreach events happening with other NGO’s on the island. This week Project Scientist, Marisa Sorrell, got a chance to speak at the Joint Nature Conservation Comittee (JNCC) Geographic Information System (GIS) workshop in collaboration with the Falkland Islands Government's South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) and The Government of Montserrat. It was a magnificent turnout of various organisations and key people, whom participated in this event, discussing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of data systems and Global information systems with regards to environmental conservation. 

11 November 2016

Dive Against Debris in Napantao MPA

On November 11th Jose Ydel (Compressor Operator) and Jon Cabiles (Scholar), donned their SCUBA gear and ventured out into Napantao’s MPA. Their mission: Dive Against Debris, collect as much reef litter, fishing line, discarded nets and unwanted clutter from CCC’s house reef.

 

Marine debris is becoming a dangerous problem across the world’s oceans; the planet’s growing human population and the lack of efficient waste disposal methods in many regions, has led to an increase in the amount of non-biodegradable waste floating around coastal regions.  Non-biodegradable plastics in particular have been shown to seriously harm and potentially kill marine and terrestrial creatures including, corals, turtles and sea birds.

 

CCC regularly try to keep the surrounding reefs of Napantao free of litter and raise awareness whenever possible to help prevent its presence in the first place. Well done to Jose and Jon for their much appreciated hard work!

11 November 2016

CCC hold Bongawisan Elementary School's Seastars Lessons 2 and 3

On November 11th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, visited Bongawisan Elementary School to once again enlighten the children about the wonders of coral reef ecosystems, in their final two Seastars lessons. 

 

Following on from Jesse’s last visit in October, the students were given a more in depth lesson on the functional components of coral reefs, the threats that are posed to them and ways they can help to sustain its associated resources.  Questions were asked throughout, keeping the children on their toes, and were answered in a positive manner.  This was a good indication that the topics being taught were not only being understood, but also developing their interests.

 

The next step for the students of Bongawisan will be an invitation to the Napantao reef for one of CCC’s Reef Rangers days, where they will get the opportunity to explore one of the best reefs Southern Leyte has to offer!

09 November 2016

CCC Attend the Southern Leyte SBSMMA Meeting

On November 9th CCC Science Officer, Jani Morton, attended the meeting of Southern Leyte’s Sogod Bay Sustainable and Marine Management Alliance (SBSMMA). This meeting brought together the 11 representatives from each municipality of Sogod Bay to discuss in further detail amendments to be made to the Alliance’s Manual of Operations. The Alliance is a joint agreement by the 11 Sogod Bay municipalities to cooperate and work together to sustainably manage the resources and increase the positive potential of the Bay.

 

A Strategic Management plan was partially developed whilst Jani attended, with discussions focused on the timings for future meetings, how the planned work will be handled and what data is needed in terms of baseline studies on community poverty levels, estimated fish catches etc. There was also added talk of the role CCC can play in providing biophysical data and monitoring of the MPAs within Sogod Bay.

 

There is much work to be done, and due to most of the discussions not being in English, for a non-native it was difficult to take an active role in the discussions. However, should these meetings become regular and discussions turn into action, the proposed outcomes of the Alliance will be vastly beneficial to the social, economic and environmental aspects connected within the Bay.

05 November 2016

Ben, Philippine's New Field Base Manager, Arrives on Site!

Number one of our new blog series - What's it like to join CCC as a Field Base Manager?

“Apologies for the inconvenience, I will be out of the office until September 2017”

It’s a surreal experience setting your out of office on for a year, but I highly recommend it.

 

My name is Ben Jack, and for the next 12 months I will be sharing a few of my experiences as Field Base Manager for Coral Cay in the Philippines.

 

Coral Cay is an award-winning NGO established in 1986, which specialises in the organisation of community based coral reef and tropical forest expeditions. It believes that protecting and restoring the natural environment is key to help sustain local livelihoods and alleviate poverty.

As I write the first instalment of this blog the monsoon rains are hammering on the roof of Coral Cay’s field base on Panoan Island, which is just off the coast of Leyte Island. Someone is strumming a guitar whilst sheltering in the porch. It’s pretty atmospheric.

 

This is my first night on the project. I’m exhausted following a long journey from my home in Oxford and I probably smell pretty bad; but I’ve had a very warm welcome from the team of staff and volunteers, and a good feed. I’m excited to have finally arrived! 

Photo courtesy of scholar - Jon Cabiles

Volunteers play a crucial role in enabling Coral Cay to carry out its work. Through ‘citizen science’ individuals from all walks of life are trained to support important conservation science. In the Philippines (Coral Cay also currently operate on Montserrat in the Caribbean) the objectives are to provide local government partners and communities with the information needed to establish marine protected areas. This is important in an area very dependent on small-scale fishing for food and livelihoods.

 

Coral Cay’s Philippines base is also in the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’, the global centre for marine biodiversity that spans the (roughly triangular) area containing Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. This not only makes it a conservation priority, but also an amazing place to go diving… which fortunately for me forms an essential part of the research methodology! Coral Cay accepts experienced divers, who are trained to conduct marine biodiversity surveys, but they also teach (to the PADI standard) those who wish to learn on site before supporting the research.

 

I’m an experienced Rescue Diver, but will be completing my Dive Master as part of training for this role. However, I’m yet to get my feet wet; so I’ll save the account of dive exploits for another posting! After hearing the team talking about the day’s top sightings, which included sargassum frog fish, cardinal fish, a sea snake, turtles, an abundance of anemone fish, ghost pipe fish and a pod of pilot whales in the bay, I’m itching to get underwater!

 

Author - Ben Jack

02 - 04 November 2016

CCC Attend the ICRI 31st General Meeting

From the 2nd to 4th November 2016, Conservation Assistant, Tom Dallison, attended the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) 31st General Meeting (GM) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris. The ICRI is an informal partnership between Nations and organizations which strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. Although the Initiative is an informal group whose decisions are not binding on its members, its actions have been pivotal in continuing to highlight the global importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, food security and social and cultural wellbeing. 

Day 1

After the acceptance of five new member states into ICRI, attendees took the afternoon to discuss and construct themes 1 & 2 of the 2016-2018 Action Plan. The Action Plan consists of 5 themes, each addressing various goals that members of ICRI believe should be focused on over the next two years and beyond. Theme 1 concentrated on raising awareness on coral reefs and associated mangroves and seagrasses across nations, organisations and the private sector in-light unprecedented climate change. As a result, a summary document will be produced subject to this matter whilst encouraging funders and grant makers to divert funding direction to projects that specifically target the monitoring of such systems. Theme 2 focusing on assisting nations in achieving international requirements such as the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. The current efforts of CCC within Montserrat and Philippines, through the innovative three-tiered approach, fall directly under theme 1 and thus, it is refreshing to know that CCC is progressing in the same direction as the general consensus. 

 

Day 1 came to close following a post-meeting cocktail held at the Palais de la Porte Dorèe Tropical Aquarium. This was a great opportunity to fully engage with other ICRI members over a glass of champagne and nibbles. Understanding the approach by other organisations and nations is key for the sector’s drive to protect coral reefs, maintaining their beauty and services for future generations. Unexpectedly, an ex-CCC project scientists was present, representing the Word Conservation Monitoring Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (WCMC-UNEP), testament to great ways in which CCC can help aspiring conservationists in their career prospects. 

Day 2

The 3rd November 2016, revolved around the topic of coral bleaching and attainment of information on the status of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. To start the day off, presentations were delivered from four regions (Caribbean, Pacific, W. Indian Ocean and East Asia). Due to current active efforts in Montserrat and the Philippines, these presentations, that concentrated on the efforts of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), were of specific interest to CCC. Stimulating status reports were highlighted by each region and following conclusion led to the questions of “How can CCC become more involved with the GCRMN and increase its, already available, data sharing capabilities?”. Following a wonderful lunch, the GM moved onto its agenda for the afternoon; the coral reef bleaching workshop.

 

The coral reef bleaching workshop was a fantastic opportunity for member States to present their respective efforts in data collection, assimilation and monitoring following the, widely-accepted, worst bleaching event since 1997. Although CCC did not present, the information gathered from other members regarding various methodologies and subsequent discussion on standardisation and data sharing was extremely useful and will be investigated further by CCC. CCC did, however, contribute to this discussion, bringing concerns of becoming too detached from local stakeholders and calling for greater efforts on capacity building with locally impacted areas to the attention of other members. Subsequent to the work shop, theme 4 was adopted which relates directly to the promotion of the ecological status of coral reefs and their respective monitoring; an area within which CCC is already active.

CCC, through ICRI, was honoured to receive a formal invitation to the Ministry of Environment, Paris to celebrate the Paris Agreement at COP21, of which came into force the following day (4th November 2016). Again, discussions were held with other ICRI members surrounding coral bleaching and other initiatives, as well as the Paris Agreement itself over champagne, cheese and oysters. It was a truly spectacular venue and something that nations and members should be proud of; although much greater steps will be needed to meet the +1.5 ºC aspiration.  

Day 3

The final day concentrated on the adoption themes 3 & 5 that outlined future ICRI actions in reducing anthropogenic impacts through regulatory tools and utilising education for greater progress in the conservation of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses. Theme 3 elicited an extremely interesting discussion between ICRI members over the various raised topics; legal frameworks, microbeads in cosmetic products, regulation of activities that directly alter reef structure, responsible mooring and the use of sunscreen, its detrimental impacts and other endocrine disruptors. As a result, a recommendation was formulated by ICRI members regarding the ban on microbeads. Furthermore, information was brought to the discussion via ReefCheck regarding the use of sun creams, highlighting their potential detrimental impacts on coral larvae beyond specific concentrations. As a result, CCC will be updating administered kit lists, offering further advice on the products to avoid using, to limit impact throughout our sites.

Post-lunch, the GM turned its attention to theme 5 that focussed upon education. As many of CCC’s initiatives, such as Reef Rangers, SEAS and the Scholarship Programme, revolve around education, new approaches and schemes were excitedly noted. Education Managed Marine Areas (EMMA) were a unique idea presented by the Agence des Aires Marines Protégées following efforts in French Polynesia. This new marine area is a truly exciting concept that empowers local children in managing an area of coastal zone to inspire and protect their respective heritage. By empowering local children, the hope is to involve them directly with all aspects of managing an MPA, whilst enabling them to teach others from tourists to their parents. Again, a truly exciting concept that CCC will certainly explore within its active sites!

 

Before conclusion, the remaining documents were adopted and final discussions had. All available documents can be found here as well as further information on ICRI. The three days of the 31st GM were extremely beneficial for CCC and as a result, an internal summary document has been produced outlining specific applicability of the GM themes and goals to CCC and how CCC can further push forward in the conservation of coastal systems.

 

To finish, below is a personal note from Tom:

 

“An excellent three days in Paris for the ICRI 31st GM. The importance for such fora cannot be under estimated; enabling various working stakeholders to share their experiences, future goals and develop global data-sharing networks. It was great to see which direction ICRI is moving and to develop the Action Plan, with some interesting topics and recommendations. Following on, I will certainly aim to bring Coral Cay Conservation up to date and explore more routes of involvement with regards to the GCRMN. Data-sharing on a global and regional scale is key in tackling our future-modelled threats to coral reefs and associated systems.”

 

Author Tom Dallison

03 November 2016

CCC Attend the FAMRC Network Meeting

On November 3rd CCC Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, attended the Southern Leyte Fisheries Aquatic and Marine Council (FAMRC) network meeting which brought together representatives across the region involved in the establishment and maintenance of marine protected areas in Southern Leyte.

 

Members from The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO), including Sir Armando Gaviola, played a large hand in the day’s proceedings, providing short lectures on their work within the Sogod bay area.

 

Uniting representatives from across Southern Leyte to discuss MPA management plans, legislation and coastal security, is vital for the successful establishment and longevity of current and future marine protected areas. 

01 November 2016

The Montserrat Team Help Out at Junior Citizen’s day!

Marisa tests the kids’ knowledge on local fauna.

 

Field Base Manager, Susan Robertson, Science Officer, Marisa Sorrell, and CCC volunteers recently got a chance to interact with many of the islands’ primary school students in the annual Junior Citizen’s Day! The day involved many organisations around the island, including the police station, fire department and fish to fins diving centre.

Testing out the dunk tank!

At the Montserrat team’s station, the kids got a chance to attempt a mock marine survey, counting the various fish and identifying different kinds of marine impacts. They were quizzed on local species knowledge and got the opportunity to test out the dunk tank, whilst breathing with the scuba equipment. 

 

The stand was extremely popular with the kids, as they got to stick their heads in water and see what it was like to use the scuba breathing devices. There was also a lot of interest for future potential scholars which is great news for the Montserrat team and future protection of the environment. 

22 October 2016

Learning all about Invasive Species 

This week Science Officer, Marisa Sorrell, talked about some of the invasive animal species that can be found on the island, such as cane toads, lionfish, green iguanas and rats. Invasive species are plants and animals that were not originally native to an area, due to this they do not always fit into the ecosystem in question and can cause harm. Some invasive species arrive in an area involuntarily (rats on board ships) others are purposefully introduced by man, for instance for food, or in a misguided attempt to combat a pest problem.  The children took the opportunity to ask about the species being discussed with questions such as ‘do iguanas feel spiky?’ and ‘are lionfish venomous?’. For the craft session, the children made lionfish using toilet rolls and colourful paper, we were all very impressed with their efforts!

21 October 2016

Bongawisan Elementary School Seastars Lesson 

CCC Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, recently gave the children of Bongawisan Elementary School their first taste of CCC’s Seastars programme.

 

During this afternoon session the children were taught the basics in Fish and Coral biology, as well as some of the ideas behind coral reef conservation.  The enthusiasm of 25 students in class grew as the lesson progressed, with them contributing answers whenever they had the chance.

 

Jesse will be revisiting the children of Bongawisan for the next series of Seastars lectures in the next couple of weeks, which will expand their knowledge further on marine conservation and coral physiology. This first session is known as the bronze level and in time the students will progress all the way to gold!

20 October 2016

San Francisco High School Beach Clean

On October 20th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, and Compressor Operator Jose Ydel, visited San Francisco High School to help with the annual San Francisco beach clean.

 

The event started at 3pm with over a hundred students making their way to the beach, each with a broom in hand, each made by CCC’s Jesse and Jose.  By the end of the day bags were filled to the brim with all manners of plastic, glass, pots and buckets; leaving the black sand of San Francisco litter free. A job very well done!

20 October 2016

CCC Philippines Presents the Estela MPA Report 

Last week Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, and Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, travelled to Estela to present the results of the survey findings collected by CCC associates during 2016, in support of a newly proposed MPA off Estela’s coast.

 

While the majority of the Estela community were unable to attend for the days’ activities, all the Estela Barangay representatives were present and eager to find out what CCC had been up to.  Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, took the attendees through results, explaining the reef structure, fish and coral diversity, and the anthropogenic impacts associated with Estela’s proposed MPA.  Following this, the benefits for establishing the proposed MPA were set down, which encouraged questions and positive discussions on the subject.

 

The Barangay Captain Nelia was quick to enquire about the MPAs legislative logistics, but seemed enthused with potential plans set ahead.  We hope that the work conducted by CCC will be the push needed to help establish a new protected area on Estela’s healthy reef.

15 October 2016

Open Day at the Taj!

At least once a year the team on Montserrat hold an open day at the Taj, in the hopes of tempting some of our local Montserratians to join as scholars. After advertising on the radio all week and posters both at Moose’s bar and the Library in Brades we set up down at Moose’s just before 10.

 

We had a mock marine survey at Moose’s and new Science Officer, Marisa Sorrell, set up a mixed survey around the marine village. This was a great idea and allowed the kids to get a ‘science eye’ as some of the frogs and snakes were hidden really well in the bushes and on the walls. Project Scientist, Rory Graham, gave presentations to prospective scholars and set up a marine transect with pictures of marine life around it to allow kids to attempt a CCC fish survey. Last, but certainly not least our Scuba Instructor, Harry Campbell, was in the pool running Discover Scuba Dive courses with anyone brave enough to try.

 

There was a lot of interest and we are looking forward to seeing the results with scholar applications over the coming months.

11 October 2016

Napantao Elementary School Seastars lesson 2 and 3

On October 11th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, gave the Seastars silver and gold reef conservation lessons at Napantao Elementary to children in grades 4, 5 and 6. 

 

These final two lessons explore in more depth, the way that coral reefs function, the threats that we as humans/the environment pose to coastal environments.   Furthermore, the students were taught about the way people within the Filipino community can help restore reef health and fish stocks by establishing MPA’s and abiding by regulated fishing methods.

 

These lessons aimed to build on the students’ previous knowledge gained in the Seastars first lesson and we hope to host some of the students in the future for one of our CCC Reef Rangers days.

11 October 2016

CCC Philippines Attend PAME Meeting

Recently CCC Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, and Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, were invited to an informative get together run by PAME members in San Francisco’s Municipality Gym. PAME stands for ‘Protected Area Management Enhancement’ and they are responsible for ensuring that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have the management and technical expertise needed to carry out their roles effectively. This day-long event would bring together many of the Barangay captains and environmental representatives from across Southern Leyte.

 

The vitally important work that PAME carry out throughout Sogod and Southern Leyte region, was highlighted during a series of talks from PAME’s own, Armando Gaviola.  While other speakers provided information on the basic concepts of marine and coastal management.  Particular focus was held on the key roles of seagrass beds, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and the links between them.

 

Bringing together representatives from across Southern Leyte to discuss conservation management plans, legislation and coastal security, helps sustain the transparency that is strived for when trying to establish successful MPAs. This meeting was a great example of that.

9 October 2016

Philippines Team Gorge Excursion

A couple of weeks ago five members of the Philippines staff team grabbed the opportunity to explore the Uwan Uwanan Gorge in Southern Leyte, accompanied by a couple of Filipino tour guides, Glen and Gage.  

Setting off at about 10.30 the group scaled rainfalls, climbed through crevices and waded through rivers, while surrounded by some of the best rainforests Southern Leyte has to offer.  Although every member spent almost the whole day completely drenched, the spirit amongst the group was high throughout, with many surprising themselves with their waterfall climbing abilities.

© Claire Ogg

The day drew to a close at around 4pm with everyone feeling exhausted.  There is no doubt that this day will live long in the memory for all those who were lucky enough to be involved, and reminded us of Southern Leyte’s diverse and exciting landscapes.  

© Claire Ogg

6 October 2016

Napantao Elementary School's Bronze Seastar Lesson!

On October 6th Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, and Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, visited the Napantao Elementary School.  Approximately 15 3rd and 4th year students were there to experience their first taste of CCC’s Seastars programme.

 

Jesse Tinapay touched on the basic fundamentals of marine conservation, coral biology and the importance of the world’s coral reefs.  Following this hour long talk the children were asked questions regarding some of the facts they had learned, and answered in a competitive but friendly manner.

 

The Napantao children whilst only young, showed a genuine interest in the topics being taught and were excited about the prospect of their next lecture in the week to come.

3 October 2016

Maasin CCC Memorandum of Agreement Meeting

On the 3rd of October both Project Scientists, Jamie Parker and Darienne Lancaster, as well as Field Base Manager, Claire Ogg, were invited to a council meeting encompassing the yearly progress of CCC and the current Memorandum of Agreement.  Those who attended included Hon. Jessica Escano, Sir Armando Gaviola of The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO), Southern Leyte tourism representative Sir Nedgar and Vice Governor Coco.

 

The meeting began with a short presentation by Project Scientist Jamie Parker; giving an overview of CCC’s conservation exploits, detailing work done to establish MPAs and updates on the Seastars and Filipino scholarship programmes. 

 

The progress report was met with approval and all those in attendance agreed that CCC’s ongoing contributions to Southern Leyte’s environmental and tourism sectors, were invaluable for the municipality’s development.