24 February 2017
Barangay Triana MPA Proposal Results Presentation
On February 24th, Jamie Parker (Project Scientist) and Jesse Tinapay (Community Liaison Officer) travelled to Barangay Triana on Limasawa island to present the results from CCC’s survey assessment; in the hope that the findings will help support the establishment of a new MPA.
Triana barangay officials gathered in the barangay hall to welcome CCC’s arrival; before Jamie Parker proceeded with the survey results for Trianas proposed MPA site. The abundance of fish found was one of the highlights of the presentation; while the high rock and hard coral substrate cover throughout the barangay waters was also a promising finding. All those who attended were taken through the key steps for establishing an MPA, and provided with the potential benefits to be attained from the added protection. The Triana Barangay officials were all positive about the results and Jamie was inundated with questions with regards to the MPAs effectiveness and spatial placement.
The next step for Triana is to update the community, and especially fisherfolk, with the outcome of this research assessment; setting out a transparent set of rules and coordinates that can be understood by everyone. This will hopefully start the ball rolling with regards to the birth of Limasawa’s second official MPA!
22 February 2017
University of West Indies Open Day and Careers Fair!
Everyone remembers the day at school where it was time to start thinking about careers, and pretty much what to do with their life! On the 22nd the University of West Indies Open Campus held their annual careers fair for the secondary school students, where many young employees in Montserrat got invited to present at the opening ceremony. Coral Cay Conservation’s Project Scientist, Marisa Sorrell, talked to all the students who attended about and the work that we carry out. She also promoted the Scholarship Scheme for those who are interested in the natural sciences and would like to gain more experience. In the science field gaining as much experience and skill sets as possible is very important, as it fills out an applicant’s CV, makes students more marketable, and creates amazing adventures and opportunities. Marisa explained the importance of volunteering and how it’s always for a great cause… and a great excuse for travelling adventures and playing with animals! The students were very engaged and eager to know more about the scholarship programme after hearing about all the fun diving and trekking they will do. Safe to say scholars for this year may be all booked up soon!
20 February 2017
Blue Halo Steering Group Meeting
The whole team at CCC Montserrat were pleased to be invited to a steering committee held by the Waitt institute recently, as part of their Blue Halo initiative. Stakeholders from across Montserrat’s environmental community were invited to discuss Blue Halo’s marine conservation and fisheries priorities for 2017, and to outline their ‘Marine Spatial Planning Process’ project that will enable the strategy to be shaped. This will detail how marine areas are currently being used, and by whom, and what conservation policies, including legal regulations, need to put in place for a sustainable use of marine resources into the future. A survey has already been conducted across the marine community. The strategy plan will go through draft iterations in consultation with the steering committee and the wider conservation and fisheries communities.
The attendees were shown interim spatial analysis maps of Montserrat’s coastline out to approximately 40m depth from shore. These maps were focussed on data gathered over a span of 200 dives undertaken over a relatively short period of time. The maps showed density plots of: Total fish biomass; Fish species richness; Coral & herbivore biomass. We were also shown videos of 3D maps of the ocean floor taken at a couple of particularly healthy reefs.
We were presented with 11 priorities and asked to debate and rank which objectives we each considered the most important, and where the focus of effort should be
directed: The top three chosen were ranked as:
1) Maintain or enhance biomass of species targeted by fisheries
2) Protect species diversity
3) Conserve live coral and healthy reefs
In an atmosphere of friendly & open collaboration the audience was split into four smaller groups to discuss our own personal views, and then share back to the group in a final wash-up session. It was a very interesting meeting, a great chance to speak to the key stakeholders or island and a pleasure to be involved in a steering committee meeting.
20 February 2017
Tristan Conquers the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra!
On the 5th February, I set off on the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra with my boss, Alistair Cole (CEO). This is classed as the worlds’ coldest and toughest ultra-marathon, and I can assure you it lived up to its reputation! Facing temperatures as low as -41°C this was a true test both mentally and physically!
About a year ago, Al came up to me with a ridiculous suggestion that we signed up to this race. After initially laughing it off, it got me thinking and two questions came to mind: Have I ever truly challenged myself and how would I react when pushed to my limit? No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get these questions out of my head and I wanted to find out the answers. A week later I found myself in his office agreeing to do the race. I regretted it almost immediately when it dawned on me what I was actually in for, not just with the race itself but also with the training I was now going to have to do.
The following months were a mix of 4am morning runs dragging a tyre around my local ranges cursing myself for saying yes, and not being in my warm, comfortable bed, and gym sessions trying to work out which muscles to strengthen. There is no specific machine for training you to pull a 25kg sled over frozen lakes and rivers and so I was having to guess at which workouts would actually work. As the months rolled by and the race was getting closer I turned my attentions to the kit I would need. This, for me, was the fun part! Everything that I had been seeing in outdoor shops that I had no excuse to buy were suddenly ‘essential kit’ and I made the most of it! There were definitely times where I got that look that we all know from my wife that said ‘Really! Do you really need another one of those?!’ but for once I had the excuse that couldn’t be argued with…’If I don’t get it then I may not come back’ although I think I used that one a little too often!
By the time February came around I was feeling prepared. I was feeling fit, I was happy with all the kit I had and most importantly I now had a beard worthy of the Arctic! We boarded the plane and headed off to Whitehorse.
As soon as we stepped off the plane, the cold hit us and suddenly so did the scale of the challenge. I could feel my nose hairs instantly freezing and the ice starting to form on my moustache and thought, what is it going to be like sleeping out in these temperatures? It was only later that I found out that that was a balmy -20°C and that it was only going to get colder from that point forward.
The morning of the race finally came and we had the perfect weather coming up for the next few days. No snow, clear blue skies and next to no wind. The trail was nicely compact and it sounded like everything was starting as well as we could have hoped. At 10:30 am we set off.
Over the next 54hrs and 45 minutes we were both pushed to our limits, physically and mentally. The cold was like nothing I have ever felt before and just sapped my strength. To be honest I don’t remember the details of the race as it all blended together in a bit of sleep deprived haze but the most notable parts were:
- Menthol sweets are not a good idea in those temperatures. When you are wearing a buff to protect your face and eating them, your breath gets pushed up to your eyes making them water and they end up freezing shut…that was an interesting experience!
- At -40 and 80% humidity, everything freezes. Your clothes, buffs, jackets and even your beard. I was constantly trying to break the ice off various parts of my body or kit, and when you stopped, trying to keep warm and stop frost bite was a constant battle. Around 20 people dropped out in the first 2 days.
- You can fall asleep whilst walking. Due to the cold we had very little sleep (in the end only about 2hrs) and so combined with the physical exertion I was exhausted. At one point I remember closing my eyes for a second and then the next thing I knew I was in a tree off of the path.
- Walking at night, exhausted and sleep deprived, through trees with a bright moon and head torch means that the light is quite fragmented and this leads to a fun filled night of incredibly realistic hallucinations. There was one 6 or 7 hour period where I was constantly seeing children running over Alistair’s sled, people coming out of the trees to try and pick pocket him and a whole range of different animals and characters coming out of the woods to see what we were doing.
- On the positive side though, the scenery we walked through was absolutely beautiful! Walking up frozen rivers, through mountains, over frozen lakes and through forests there was always a sight to see that would lift your spirits and remind you why you were doing it. The most memorable one was crossing Braeburn lake at sunset on the last day. This was one of the times when I had to just take a minute, stop walking and sit down and enjoy the view. That is one memory that will stay with me for a long time.
- Crossing the finish line and the feeling of knowing that we had done it. We hadn’t given in, no matter how much we had wanted to, and we had the added bonus of finding out that we had come third in our category.
- The burger they gave you at the end whilst sitting in a warm café next to a fire. It was the size of a dinner plate and at that moment in time, was the best thing that I had ever eaten!
That evening we got a shuttle back to Whitehorse where we checked into a hotel, limped up the stairs on seizing legs and fell asleep in a warm bed (after a well needed hot shower). The next day was spent trying to keep moving and going for short walks to get the compulsory souvenirs for our families, groaning and complaining about aching legs and knees before finally giving up and getting a Dominoes pizza delivered to our room.
It was a fantastic experience which has left me with a real sense of pride and achievement and I feel like I got the answers I wanted to the questions that I had asked myself at the beginning of this adventure.
Author: Tristan Brown
18 February 2017
The Philippines Site Welcome the Bongawisan Reef Rangers
On February 18th, twelve elementary school students were invited from Bongawisan for their first fun filled Reef Rangers experience.
The day was packed full of games, including an adrenaline filled ‘slap the answer’, the ‘blindfold food-chain game’, ‘protect your MPA’ and fish Pictionary. These games kept the children on their toes whilst also developing their knowledge on all things marine. A few short lessons on marine life and coral reef ecosystems set up the Bongawisan students perfectly for a Napantao snorkel session; a first for many of the Reef Ranger trainees. The kids loved the experience so much that another reef swim was organised at the end of the day’s proceedings!
Exposing the children of Bongawisan to the wonders below the seas will hopefully encourage them to visit the coast more often; helping to inspire interest and ensure the future conservation of Napantao’s impeccable coral reef.
17 February 2017
Pinamudlan Elementary School Seastars (Lessons 2 and 3)
On February 17th, CCC’s Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, revisited Pinamudlan Elementary School for the children’s 2nd and 3rd Seastars lessons of the month.
Having stirred interests in his first talk the week before; Jesse took the patiently waiting students through a more in depth look into coral formations, fish anatomy, as well as the threats and conservation efforts being made to help preserve the Philippines’ coral reefs. Problems such as overfishing, plastic pollution and dangerous fishing practices have put many Filipino reefs in jeopardy; teaching the younger generations about these problems could be key to helping the recovery of corals and fish stocks for generations to come.
CCC hope that these Seastars encounters will also inspire the students of Pinamudlan to visit Napantao for a Reef Rangers day or even apply for CCC scholarships in the distant future!
11 February 2017
Learning all about Birds and Aeroplanes!
The Library session this week was requested by the children - “we want birds & planes!”. Eager to please, Jerry Slater, our new Science Officer, put together a colourful interactive presentation on birds. We started with a wee quiz on bird superlatives: which is the biggest? – the ostrich; the smallest? – the bee hummingbird; the fastest? – the peregrine falcon at 240 km/hr (and hunts on Montserrat!); the most common? – the chicken, at 50 billion worldwide; and the rarest? – sadly some of Montserrat’s most beautiful birdlife.
The children learnt how to identify different bird types by the shape of their feet and beaks. They listened to different bird calls and had to guess which bird owned which song. A particularly useful skill that the Coral Cay volunteers have to master for their survey hikes, as birds are more often hiding in the canopy. The children then learnt about the challenges that bird life faces and the need for their conservation.
The children had many bird tales to tell, from nature documentaries they had watched to sightings from their own back yard. Ever proud of their island, one boy took the opportunity to sing the national anthem!
Lecture done, it was on to the craftwork. Paper aeroplanes, of course drawn to look like birds of prey. To test the many different inventive creations, the children lined up to launch their birds across the library, with accompanying bird-like shrieking. No eyes were taken out during this session so everyone was a winner ;)!
10 February 2017
Pinamudlan Elementary School Seastars (Lesson 1)
In early February Pinamudlan Elementary in San Francisco were next to invite CCC Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, to their school for the first of two seastars lesson instalments.
The first lesson attracted the attention of 20 young students, each equipped with an open mind and willingness to learn about their surrounding underwater world. Jesse kicked off proceedings with an overview of coral and fish biology before delving deeper into some of CCC’s community work. The students, with attentions clearly captured, threw up their hands at every opportunity, answering questions with confidence and enthusiasm.
Jesse will be travelling back to Pinamudlan next week to complete part two of the seastar lesson series and gauging from the children’s interest in the first, the occasion couldn’t come round any quicker!
03 February 2017
Marayag Elementary School Seastars (Lessons 2 and 3)
On February 3rd, CCC’s Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, made a second trip to Marayag Elementary School to impart more coral reef knowledge to the eagerly awaiting students.
After having a taste of marine biology and conservation during Jesse’s first seastars lesson the week prior, the children couldn’t wait to delve in further. As with many locations across the world, the Philippines suffers from many human influenced problems, which are having a detrimental effect on the country’s coastal ecosystems. Human impacts and threats to coral reefs were two of the main subjects touched upon during Jesse’s hour long lesson; promisingly many of the listeners were already aware of many of the problems posed by the human population.
By finishing the lesson with a quick fire question round an energetic group of students left with a heightened sense of responsibility for their coastal and marine surroundings.
28 January 2017
Tuno Elementary Reef Rangers Day
On January 28th, CCC welcomed seven students from Tuno Elementary School to Napantao for the first Reef Rangers day of the year!
After arriving in torrid weather conditions, the students were given a guided tour of the base by Project Scientist, Jamie Parker, before jumping into a game of fish themed Pictionary. The game was led by Yelena Duarte (Scholar), the students warmed to the occasion, unleashing some impressive drawings, whilst also showing identification skills beyond their years. Next on the morning’s agenda was a series of coral and fish lessons led by Jamie Parker (Project Scientist) and Sarah Mynott (Science Officer). A game of ‘slap the answer’ followed, adding a slice of intensity to the morning’s teachings and bringing out many of the student’s competitive streaks. Another set of lectures encompassing food-chains, the threats and importance of coral reefs to Filipino communities, as well as the conservation efforts being used to help preserve their legacy helped prepare the attendees for their final game; the ‘blind-fold food-chain challenge’. The challenge was organised by Monica Ricafort (Scholar) and with help from Yelena and volunteer, Lisa Sidebotham, all the students succeeded in their mission, completing their food-chains in record time!
With exceptional rainfall predicted after lunch, the Tuno students decided to make a dash for it before the heavens opened. Unfortunately, a Reef Rangers snorkel session was not possible due the weather conditions, however, that should not detract from the positivity and enthusiasm shown by everyone over the course of a productive morning.
28 January 2017
Learning all about Frogs!
Every library session, the Montserrat team get the usual regulars attending, bringing friends and always full of questions. The library session topic this week was decided by children’s choice, which was frogs and toads! The kids learned the difference between the two, basic biology of tadpoles and adults, including the species found on Montserrat; the lesser Antillean tree frog, Mountain chicken and cane toad. They were very intrigued when they learned that amphibians were found all over the world including deserts of Australia, and eager to know what species lived in Antarctica (none sadly). The kids especially enjoyed the interactive activity making frogs that caught ‘flies’. The children seem to be very keen on interactive crafting activities which have been a massive success for the first month of the new year!
28 January 2017
CCC Join the Napantao Anniversary Celebration!
On Saturday all CCC staff and volunteers were invited to Napantao’s anniversary meal and party; celebrating the formation of Barangay Napantao. Following a day of rain and Purok basketball matches, of which some CCC members took part, everyone in Napantao descended on the Barangay’s converted basketball court for a spot of food. With everyone tucking in around 8pm, the winners of the dance and singing competitions from the evening prior once again showed off their talents, much to the crowd’s delight.
The basketball arena was transformed from a community feast to a disco not long after 9pm; the immergence of strobe lights and a pounding bass inspiring the community to swap forks and spoons for dancing shoes. By 1.30am everyone was thoroughly danced out but all headed to bed in high spirits.
26 January 2017
Marayag Elementary School Seastars (Lesson 1)
On January 26th, CCC’s Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Tinapay, travelled to Marayag Elementary School to give the first of three Seastars lessons to a class of eagerly awaiting students.
Jesse kicked off proceedings with a bit of background knowledge regarding coral reefs and their myriad of inhabitants. Explanations for how coral polyps feed and why coral reef ecosystems are so important to the Philippine communities, sparked a multitude of questions from the Marayag crowd. With the children’s interest clearly heightened, Jesse moved onto the basics of fish anatomy and species diversity, before bringing a close to the afternoon’s proceedings.
Next week Jesse will be travelling back to Marayag to give the next two lessons; focussing on the threats to the ocean and the conservation efforts that are being made to help preserve it.
16 January 2017
Learning all about Leatherback Turtles!
As 2017 continues, the CCC Montserrat team held their first library session for the new year, and what better way to start than to talk about the cool animals they will see in January?
Leatherback Sea Turtles are the biggest sea turtle species and come to nest between January and March on Montserrat! Many of the kids have never seen or heard of these giants before and were eager to learn about how big they were, what they ate, and even got cheeky trying to guess how many people add up to one Leatherback whilst attempting to guess the weight of Project Scientist, Marisa! The kids were very excited for the chance to see Leatherbacks but also learned not to approach nesting turtles and not to eat their meat or eggs. Marisa also explained the difficulty that turtles have telling between plastic bags and one of their food sources, jellyfish, as plastic bags have been the cause of many sea turtle mortalities.
For crafts, the kids got to make ‘climbing critters’ where paper plate turtles could climb up a string which they can put on a door handle, or around their necks! What a great way to kick off the new year!
Author: Marisa Sorrell
14 January 2017
Napantao Beach Clean
On January 14th, all CCC staff members and volunteers donned rubber gloves and grabbed a rice sack in preparation for a spring clean of Napantao’s long beach.
Despite the overcast conditions and the brief spells of light drizzle, everyone did their best to remove as much unwanted debris from Napantao’s coastline as they could. All manner of rubbish was collected from plastic bags, bottles, coat-hangers, paint brushes, discarded fishing gear and even the occasional rogue baby diaper. The heavy rain that was unleashed on Southern Leyte over the last 2 weeks was likely the reason for so many rubbish sacks being filled that day; as the rain run-off from the land not only brings with it wood and mud deposits, but also a variety of litter.
Having filled 6 full rice bags full of washed up waste, Napantao’s sandy coastline was looking fresher than ever. Keeping the beaches of Southern Leyte clean not only improves aesthetic appeal, but also helps protect marine life from the potential threats associated with plastic pollutants.
12 January 2017
CCC Attends a Lecture by Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller at the Zoological Society London
Entitled: What is the real world catch? And what is preventing us from seeing it?
A Lecture by Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller at the Zoological Society London in partnership with the Blue Marine Foundation. Attended By CCC Conservation Assistant - Tom Dallison.
If you’ve read papers or books about fisheries or used fishbase.org, then you’ve probably heard of Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller; two exceptional scientists responsible for pioneering the way we work with and think about fisheries from local to global levels. The aim of the guest lecture was to discuss and disseminate the culmination of data and information from Pauly and Zeller’s recent 10-year project, “Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining” written for Nature Communications, 2016.
Focusing on global catch reports presented by FAO, challenges and issues were brought to the audience’s attention encapsulated within historic trends and habits by countries. For those that aren’t aware, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations) is an organisation that provides support and governance for countries with regards to their resources. Historically, countries such as China in the 1980s continuously reported increasing catches due to the social stigma accompanying failure. Other countries would report catches from fisheries that they deemed to be insignificant or of ‘no interest’ as ‘N/A’, which would result in a ‘0’ during analysis, thus underreporting catches. It was an error that was blatantly obvious, but had never been addressed!
So how was this under-reporting of catches accounted for? Dirk Zeller introduced and discussed the methodology used to estimate catches; on the premise that even a rough estimation was much better than a soft ‘0’ drawn from a preliminary ‘N/A’. This methodology was termed “Catch Reconstruction” and indicated a quantitative value for all withdrawals from the ecosystem. Fisheries were then further categorised into industrial, artisanal, subsistence and recreational. Zeller referred to the Catch Reconstruction methodology as a jig-saw with the out-side and easiest pieces constructed first followed by the harder, inner pieces. In order to gain the harder pieces of the jig-saw puzzle broader, novel methods of construction were required with records examined from colonial records (post-1950) to number and size of fishing vessel engines. These constructions were then layered with species specific locations and habitat preferences on a spatial scale – it was at this point that the true effort of this project was coming to light!
Following from the topic of small-scale and subsistence fisheries, a graph was presented that presented global catches from the various sectors of fisheries, which prompted a question from someone in the audience. The question targeted the artisanal sector and queried as to why catch reports were increasing however, we are told and know that catches are actually decreasing. The answer, by Daniel Pauly, indicated that the results you display depend on the data you collect. Although, yes, some results demonstrate a decrease in catch, the increase shown in the presented figure incorporates both artisanal withdrawal and Malthusian based fisheries (a fishery where the fisher rely on destructive practices). Pauly discussed how land owner ship and populations increases resulted in the displacement of individuals and families who had two options; go to the large cities and live in slums, or head to the coast and become a fisherman. Those that decided to head to the coast were not skilled in relation to traditional fishers and thus, as a result, traditional fisheries were being displaced and new fishers, with their Malthusian method (because it’s easy and effective in the short-term) were on the rise. Consequently, causing catches to rise. This was certainly applicable to Coral Cay Conservation!
In conclusion, I would certainly recommend sitting down and reading the paper by Pauly and Zeller as they pose interesting arguments and, in my opinion, one of the closest assessments of global fishery productivity to date – however, do not take this as certain, data are still being manipulated and the results are continually changing. Even better, all this data is available online at www.seaaroundus.org . It was a fantastic event, with a plethora of top scientists (I forgot to mention that Callum Roberts was in attendance too, along with the executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation, the man that brought you ‘The End of the Line’, Charles Clover), it was a real eye-opener to the issues we still face in fisheries science to-date. I would like to conclude this blog on a question and answer proposed to both Zeller and Pauly by Charles Clover –
“Do you both eat fish?”
Whilst Pauly joked about eating whatever he is given, he answered by explaining that the fish he eats hold low trophic levels such as anchovies. But it was Zeller’s answer that hit-home – “I do eat fish, yes, but only occasionally as I believe fish should still hold an important role within our diets. However, the fish I eat, I source locally, so being based in British Columbia, things like Halibut are great. I avoid eating imported fish. As you can see from the figures reported, industrial fishing constitutes the greatest effort and withdrawal of fishes. These industrial fishers often operate in areas depended upon by subsistence fishers and therefore I don’t believe that we should be taking fish out of their mouths, decreasing their food security”
Author: Tom Dallison
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.
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.
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
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).
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!
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.