4 October 2014
CCC gear up for the Montserrat Alliouagana Festival of the Word!
This week saw the start of CCC’s preparations for the Montserrat Alliouagana Festival of the Word, which takes place in November. Education Officer Helen Russell was joined by Science Officer Hazel Thornton, Assistant Field Base Manager Anne McDonald and volunteers Josh and Alice in a session designed to encourage children to read about animals and animal characters in books. Coral Cay is helping to promote literacy and a love of reading alongside conservation education, by working with children to prepare costumes for the Book Lover’s Parade for the festival based on animal characters from books.
The preparations will take place over the next three sessions and began in earnest this week with a presentation about a variety of endangered animals from around the world. The ‘animals of the world’ quiz at the beginning got things started as children matched animals to their worldwide locations. Tigers and Elephants then became the focus, with children animated about their favourite books and animals characters including those from ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘the Tiger that came to Tea’. Helen then moved on to share information about these animals with an emphasis on the dangers posed by poaching, the trade in illegal animal products and habitat destruction that is affecting these fascinating creatures in real life. The discussions that followed encouraged children to think about ways to protect endangered species and it was agreed that educating others was of prime importance.
Children were even more keen than usual as they then worked with volunteers to choose a book, read it and choose characters for their costume. The time was spent designing masks that will be made in later sessions; the session was lively and volunteers were kept busy as a wide variety of designs emerged including lions, pandas, parrots, leopards, mice, tigers, panthers and even angel fish!
Over 19 children attended this session, one of the highest numbers yet; it was particularly pleasing to see so many new faces who had been encouraged to come along by word of mouth and promotion on ZJB radio; Coral Cay volunteers thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the session and engaging with such an enthusiastic group of young people. Thanks must go as always to Brades Library for hosting the event.
2 October 2014
An Environmental Awareness day is in the works!
CCC Science Officers, Amy and Alan, visited Liloan National Tech Vocational High School for their second environmental committee meeting recently and were very impressed by what the group had planned. The committee was extremely excited and had planned an environmental awareness day which would get the whole school involved. The plan included various activities such as: a beach clean-up, poster competitions, an environmental quiz bee and tree planting. As with many Filipino events, there would also be dance and musical aspects to the day, along with an ‘amazing race’ which Alan and Amy were very intrigued about! The school planned to get the local government involved to fund the tree planting to enable the school to make a longer lasting positive impact on the environment and encourage the pupils that their efforts were appreciated on a larger scale.
Another meeting was planned to finalise the plans with the school and CCC, and we are very intrigued to see what else they come up with!
30 September 2014
San Francisco High School students get creative at their Seastars art competition!
Charlie Wiseman (Project Scientist) and Amy Hornett (SCUBA Instructor) jumped at the chance to attend an art competition at San Francisco High School (CAASAFI). The competition was arranged by the school’s environmental committee, which was established after the school’s completion of 3 CCC Seastar Environmental Award Scheme (SEAS) lectures. Students were given 2 hours to complete a poster in any media to portray their interpretation of the theme “Environment”.
It was great fun to watch the students develop their ideas and draw a variety of different pictures under the Filipino sun. Pictures varied from rice paddy landscapes with mountainous backdrops to underwater seascapes.
Some of the most thought provoking posters included important messages such as “Save Our Mother Earth” and depicted scenes of healthy, well-protected environments in contrast to polluted environments where organisms were no longer able to survive. The results of the competition will be announced on Friday the 10th October during a special prize giving ceremony, which will include certificates displaying the Environmental Committee’s unique new logo.
26 September 2014
Southern Leyte holds its first annual Tourism Summit
On the 26th September (the day before World Tourism Day) Charlie Wiseman (Project Scientist) and Alan Kavanagh (Science Officer) visited the capital of Southern Leyte, Maasin City, to attend the province’s first annual Tourism Summit. The event started early with dance performances from local universities to celebrate the arrival of Hon. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. The people of Southern Leyte were extremely excited to welcome such an important guest.
The summit began with an inspiring speech from the Senator about the numerous prospects of Southern Leyte as a growing tourist destination. He emphasised the importance of advertising and pursuing the right tourist market, discussed the growing number of Filipino tourists desperate to explore their own country and the significance of reliable transportation links for successful tourism operations. He then opened up the summit to a panel discussion where stakeholders from all sectors could ask him questions, make statements or provide opinions. The session was extremely diverse and involved such topics as “the potential for Limasawa island as a tourist attraction”, “the prospect of establishing a wind farm on Limasawa island” and “the importance of educating tourist attraction staff”.
The afternoon was divided into three sessions of discussion provided by various stakeholder experts, followed by panel discussions. The first session addressed “Southern Leyte’s tourism role within the Eastern Visayas after Yolanda” and “The integration of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – boon or bane for local tourism?” The second session contained the topics “Success of English as a Second Language (ESL) in Cebu” and “The role of social media in tourism promotions”.
The final session discussed Sogod Bay as the “Next dive mecca of the Philippines” and Mt. Nacolod as “The next major ecotourism destination in Eastern Visayas/the Philippines”. Discussions after each session were full of passion and centred on the main tourist attraction of Southern Leyte, SCUBA diving. With such an emphasis upon diving to attract tourists to Southern Leyte, it is apparent that the appropriate protection of dive sites and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is vital to the success of the province’s future in tourism. If these areas are not suitably managed and consequently overfished and damaged, Southern Leyte will lose their main tourist attraction.
25 September 2014
Students at Liloan National Tech Vocational High School eager to start their Gold Seastar course
After successfully completing their Silver Seastar 3 course the week earlier students at Liloan National Tech Vocational High School were eager to get started on the next stage of the Seastar program. At the end of SEAS 3, they had elected 2 members from each class, so 10 members overall out of grade 7. Therefore at the beginning of today’s meeting, they elected a team leader and assistant team leader to run the committee.
CCC Science Officer, Amy, explained to the group what the aims of the committee were and how they could go about holding an event to gain their Gold Sea Star Award. They were enthusiastic and discussed different options such as a coastal clean-up and art competition to raise awareness within their school, and to improve the quality of the environment. Within the committee, the students organise the events themselves so they are doing what they want to do, with the guidance and support of CCC. Amy is looking forward to returning shortly and finding out about their planned event.
20 September 2014
Learning about Montserrat's only endemic mammal- the bat!
This week at Brades library, ‘bats’ were the focus for the Coral Cay presentation and craft sessions. Following a live interview on Montserrat’s ZJB radio to promote the event, education officer Helen Russell was joined by Anne McDonald and volunteer, Eleanor, to help teach children about Montserrat’s only endemic mammal.
There are ten different species of bat on Montserrat, two of which are endangered and several of which are threatened. Children learnt about some of these different species including the endangered yellow-shouldered volcano bat, the large fishing bat and the fluffy funnel eared bat, before taking part in a quiz and competition to test their new found knowledge. There was a lot of engaging discussion about why bats are important to Montserrat and children were surprised to learn that a single colony of bats could consume over 10,000 mosquitos in a night. It was unanimously agreed that bats were a good thing!
Following the presentation and quiz, children took part in the craft session to make their own bats; many decorating their bats with the food they eat, there was also a guest appearance for the newest species of Montserratian bat, the lesser-known ‘pink sequinned bat’. The children really enjoyed themselves and all left with a much better insight into the importance of this much misunderstood mammal.
Thanks goes as always to the staff at Brades library for helping to host the event and to Rose Willock at ZJB Radio for her continued support and promotion of Coral Cay events within the community.
18 September 2014
Students at Liloan National Tech Vocational High School receive their Silver Seastar certificates!
CCC Science Officers Amy and Alan, recently visited Liloan National Tech Vocational High School to complete the final SEAS (Seastar Environmental Award Scheme) lecture. They taught 5 classes, covering the whole of grade 7 and at the end of each class the students were awarded their Silver Seastar certificate for completing the course.
Each class took the information on board really well and were extremely enthusiastic throughout the session, especially when playing the MPA (marine protected area) game. Within the game, the MPA is represented as a ‘fish factory’ and gives a good practical explanation of how the MPA works over time. It demonstrates how fish stocks are increased as a result of the MPA and how illegal fishing within the MPA is very bad as it severely decreases fish yields. After completing the SEAS course, the students had a good understanding of what coral is along with its structure, what can impact the reef, why the reef is so important and how we can protect it.
At the end of the lesson Amy and Alan took the opportunity to explain to each group the next step towards gaining their Gold Seastar Award, which involves setting up an environmental committee. The session ended with each class electing 2 members to be on the committee and represent that class. Watch this space to see how they get on!
6 September 2014
Learning about Sharks in Montserrat!
‘Sharks’ was the topic for this week’s CCC Montserrat event at Brades library; the first library session for new Education Officer Helen Russell joined by new volunteers Josh and Alice. The session began with an interactive presentation about sharks encouraging students to learn about the anatomy of the shark, how they are different to whales and about the sharks found around Montserrat. The kids already knew some key facts about sharks, but were surprised to learn how they were so different to whales: there was also much enthusiasm for the competition to see who could recall the different types of fin with kids coming up to the screen in pairs to point and share what they had learnt.
The presentation then moved on to discuss why sharks are so important to Montserrat. Kids were interested to learn about aquatic food webs and the sharks’ role as apex predators helping to remove weaker and diseased fish. There was also a lot of discussion about why sharks are in danger from humans due to their continued use in some foods, the use of fishing nets and their relatively slow breeding cycle. Many kids arrived thinking that all sharks were aggressive but were pleased to learn about the reality and how rare injury from sharks are worldwide and that aggression is normally linked to human activities in the sharks’ vicinity. Finally the session finished with a question and answer session reviewing what kids had learnt and how their perceptions of sharks had changed.
Following the presentation and questions students took part in a craft session, making shark mobiles with templates for the most common sharks around Montserrat: the Nurse shark, the Caribbean reef shark and the Hammerhead. 18 students attended this week, showing that the library sessions continue to remain popular and thanks goes to both the Brades library and the local radio station ZJB for their continued support with the promotion and hosting of the sessions.
4 September 2014
San Francisco High School students produce their Seastar Committee logo!
Medical Officer, Caroline Pegg, and Science Officer, Alan Kavanagh, visited San Francisco High School to attend an environmental committee meeting. Environmental Committee meetings are established in schools that have completed their CCC Seastar Environmental Award Scheme (SEAS) lectures. Environmental committees are created to engage the school in conservation awareness events. Such events include school-wide beach clean-ups, tree planting, mangrove planting, art competitions or environmental concerts for the community.
The San Francisco High School team were enthusiastic and planned a poster competition for the whole school with the theme “youth can help, save our local environment”. This will take place on the 30th September and will start with an exciting dance number. The team developed a logo for their committee, which CCC has printed onto certificates for the winners of the art competition. The team were also excited about the new trash cans and recycling that has begun at their school after their last meeting.
30 August 2014
Presenting the beauties of the reef to Nueva Estrella Norte Barangay Council
On the 30th August, a team of Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) staff and volunteers photographed the coral reef of a current survey site, Nueva Estrella Norte. Charlie Wiseman (Project Scientist) and Amy Gosney (Science Officer) then attended a meeting with Sir Nario (Municipal Agriculture Officer of Pintuyan), Sir Lito (Agricultural Technician of Fisheries) and Nueva Estrella Norte’s Barangay Council. The photos obtained on dives earlier that morning were used to show the people of Nueva Estrella Norte the status of their coral reef. The majority of the barangay community have never snorkelled their reefs before and so have never seen their coral reefs.
They were shown photos of their coral diversity and reef complexity and they exclaimed at how pretty it looked. They were also shown photos of the different fish species observed on their reef and explained. Populations of butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) observed on their reefs indicated healthy live coral cover, as butterflyfish are dependent upon live coral as a food source. Unfortunately photos of large and commercially important fish species were not obtained. Preliminary observations of the reef indicate a lack of large fish and a lack of targeted fisheries species, such as groupers (Serranidae), snappers (Lutjanidae) and parrotfish (Scaridae). This likely indicates overfishing of the reef.
The implementation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) would allow for the recovery of commercially important species and would provide juveniles with a safe habitat within which to grow to larger, more fecund sizes. These fish would then “spill-over” into the waters surrounding the MPA, providing surrounding fisheries with a sustainable supply of fish. The barangay council were excited by this prospect and cannot wait until surveying of their reefs has finished so that they can begin MPA establishment.
When Charlie and Amy returned to the dive boat after the meeting they discovered that the local children had taken over; entertaining CCC staff and volunteers with their swimming and diving skills!
23 August 2014
Seabirds of Montserrat
This week’s CCC educational workshop at Brades Library focussed on the ‘Seabirds of Montserrat’ and was presented by Science Officer Duncan. We had 7 children in our audience for Duncan’s presentation, and several more turned up a little later for the arts and crafts session. The local kids learned about which seabirds they can expect to see around the coast as well as some fun, gross and gruesome facts! We discussed how to identify certain species as well as several of the threats facing seabirds worldwide, and what can be done to help them.
After the presentation Duncan was joined by Project Scientist Shawn, Field Base Manager Kenny and Assistant Field Base Manager Anne who got stuck in to some arts and crafts with the kids. Some spectacularly flamboyant and colourful tropicbirds and pelicans were produced. The kids’ ones were pretty good too!
09 August 2014
An Introduction to Scuba Diving
This Saturday’s CCC workshop at Brades library introduced the audience to the wonders of SCUBA diving! Sparing no effort to make the experience as authentic as possible, EO Orlane Van Erps even dressed up in her wetsuit to talk to the children about the history, background and applications of scuba diving. Assisting her were volunteers Alex Merrington and Kim Littlewood, and Field Base Manager Kenny McDonald.
There was no crafts session for this workshop; instead the children were invited to try out breathing from a real life SCUBA unit while underwater! They did this with their heads submerged in a large barrel of water outside the library, and our young audience enjoyed the experience so much we had to practically tear them away from the regulator by the end of it. Some kids went back for second, third and even fourth tries!
This slightly different workshop went really well as it gave the children a chance to do something a little more ‘hands on’.
09 August 2014
The Mountain Chicken Project Visit the Taj
CCC recently welcomed the team from the Mountain Chicken Project, who visited the Taj to tell us all about the Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax), and the work they’re currently doing to help conserve this critically endangered amphibian.
Project Manager, Laura Bambini, delivered a very interesting and insightful presentation on the Mountain Chicken, and threats currently being faced by this species (primarily the Chytrid fungus) which is now only found on two islands – Montserrat and Dominica. Laura explained what survey work they were doing presently, and showed us some of the equipment they use when out in the field. They are hoping to start doing some surveys of Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in the near future to monitor background incidence of the Chytrid fungus, something which CCC might be able to help with having assisted with a few surveys last year.
09 August 2014
Youth Camp Weekend on the Philippines Site
On the weekend CCC’s Education Officers Liz and David, in conjunction with the Peace Corp, ran a youth camp weekend for students of Pintuyan National Vocational High School. The aim was to raise awareness of marine fauna and flora found in the local area, to make the students aware of the anthropogenic issues that South Leyte marine habitats face, and to explain the importance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). It was a two day event that culminated with the students actually going out snorkelling to identify fish and corals with Coral Cay staff. It was a truly magical weekend of learning and inspiration (inspiration to both the children and the staff who were involved).
04 August 2014
Open Day at the Taj!
We held our very first Open Day at the Taj Mahal -our CCC Montserrat Field Base- this week, to familiarize the local community more with CCC and our work on island. This day was mainly aimed at promoting our local scholarship scheme, but we happily welcomed a very mixed audience. From the Saturday morning Library kids to our favorite community dignitaries, several familiar faces and few more new ones showed up.
The whole team of staff and volunteers put in a significant amount of effort and enthusiasm over the weekend to have the Taj and our programme’s activities perfectly ready for the big day. While children enjoyed the educational craft session with Education Officer Orlane and some of our current volunteers, we put on a couple of lectures for the adults and older children starting with project Scientist Shawn Daniel presenting CCC and the Montserrat Ridge to Reef Project. This was followed by a lecture on endemic species which was very well received by all, and an introduction to Scuba equipment before the delicious lunch break: pizzas, bread scrolls and salads prepared by our best cooks on site!
Anyone aged 8 and older was then invited for a Scuba Try Out in the Taj’s swimming pool, soon joined by the younger children showing off their dolphin swimming skills. Some of them even tried breathing from Scuba Instructor Andy’s Octopus and now can’t wait to be old enough to experience their first dive.
Throughout the day staff and volunteers also stood by to answer the many questions our guests had about coral reefs, local endangered species, our scientific work and everyday life on site.
This first Open Day was a success for our Montserrat team who is looking forward to having this type of awareness day happen on a regular basis as part of the Education and Community side of our project.
30 July 2014
San Francisco Rescue Jamboree
CCC were recently invited to the San Francisco Rescue Jamboree, a local event designed to raise awareness about accident prevention and disaster preparation. Alongside various demonstrations of rescues from buildings, traffic accidents, and first aid, the CCC team were asked to give a demonstration of sea safety and rescue. Given that several CCC staff are trained lifeguards or rescue divers, it was the perfect opportunity to help.
Unfortunately the rough sea conditions made it unsafe to give a practical demonstration in water, but not to be perturbed our team headed to the gymnasium, where local rescue groups and medical teams from all around the island and beyond attended our modified lecture.
The session began with an introduction from Charlie (Project scientist), who then went on to be our ‘drowning victim’. Liz (Education Officer) and Amy (Scuba Instructor) then alternated between narrating and demonstrating how to rescue both active and unresponsive swimmers from the waves. The session covered how to approach swimmers, basic towing techniques and administration of rescue breaths where required. It also contained information on how to secure suspected spinal injuries: the local staff clearly found this useful as they were practicing on each other as they left! At the end of the session Richie (Education Officer) demonstrated some lifts used to remove victims from the water, then the group finished with a reminder of basic on-shore first aid and the importance of medical attention for any suspected drowning.
After a long round of photo taking, including many from our volunteer photographer Charlie, the CCC staff were invited to judge the results of an 'on-the-spot' disaster management poster competition held the evening before. Both of the submitted entries were excellent, and the winning poster will be displayed in the municipal office the raise awareness of the actions we can all take to help prevent disasters.
Overall it was a really successful morning, with CCC and local staff greatly enjoying it. It is always useful to further strengthen links with the municipality, and the free snacks provided were an unexpected treat!
29 July 2014
Joining in on the fun at Liloan Festival, Philippines!
On July 29th Education Officer, Liz, and volunteer, Charlie, attended a special event that was part of the week long fiesta celebrations in Liloan- a competition between the three high schools to tell the story of the history of Liloan. Himayangan, Estela, and Liloan Technical Vocational High Schools are all participating in CCC’s education programs to learn about coral reefs and conservation. Liz has worked extensively in all three schools and has seen them working hard for the last month to prepare for the competition. All that practicing
26 July 2014
CCC talk Open Days and Puppet Shows on ZJB Radio!
CCC staff members Shawn (Project Scientist) and Orlane (Education Officer) were fortunate enough to be guests on Rose Willock’s Saturday morning cultural show. Rose was a major collaborator and huge help during CCC’s preparation for the previous week’s puppet show at the Montserrat Calabash festival.
Shawn and Orlane spoke a bit about CCC’s puppet show, but mainly discussed Coral Cay Montserrat’s upcoming open day, scheduled for Monday August 4th at the Taj Mahal in Old Towne. Although everyone would be welcome to attend it would be especially useful for people considering applying to be a part of CCC’s Local Scholars programme. Planned activities for the day include a tour of the site, presentations from science and education staff, a demonstration in the use of SCUBA and try dive, plus a crafts session for younger children.
Rose was very enthusiastic about this, saying she would be encouraging people to attend and would personally do her best to swing by the Taj on the day!
22 July 2014
Puppet Show at the Calabash Festival!
The Montserrat Calabash Festival celebrates African heritage and Montserratian culture through local music, food and craftwork. This year, our CCC Montserrat team joined the celebrations with “Danny’s Dilemma” – a CCC Puppet show that highlights some of the threats to local reefs.
After an early morning start to set up the stage, create our very own coral reef décor, and rehearse our lines and voice-acting one last time, the team was ready to go. The first show went down so well, the team was asked to perform a second showing! Over 80 children and young-hearted adults enjoyed Danny the Damselfish’s quest to help out his friends and protect the reefs of Montserrat. The next performance is already scheduled for the Alliouagana Festival. Until then, remember that everything happening on land, also affects the reef!
11 July 2014
Montserrat Ridge to Reef Project
Check out our new video to get a taster of what it is like to volunteer as a terrestrial or marine volunteer in Montserrat.
Edited by Tristan Brown
Music: "Stealth Groover" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
09 July 2014
CCC Review: A Volunteers' Perspective
My impacts and memories from NapanWOW:
I was at the Philippine site last year, whilst there I met my best friend (a fellow volunteer from France), who has been amazing to me since and I have attempted to be the same to her although I'm sure I would never be as good a friend as her.
My time in the Philippines reinforced my love of animals. My career goals, although the same, have adapted somewhat to hopefully start my own colony of hard corals to help the conservation in the wild. Meeting with a Filipino scholar who has similar interests, has been a start to that and I will hopefully return to the Philippines.
Personally, travelling and learning to dive was tough suffering with bi-polar and I had to stay out of the water more than I would have liked but now when I have bad days I'm trying to push through because every day is taking me one step closer to returning to the Philippines.
By a UK volunteer.
8 July 2014
CCC attend an Information and Education Campaign Training day
On the 8th July, Charlie Wiseman (Project Scientist) and Liz Scheimer (Education Officer) were invited to attend an Information and Education Campaign (IEC) training day at the Pintuyan Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO) by US Peace Corp member Tom Sanborn. Tom works closely with Pintuyan MAO assisting with marine conservation efforts, IECs and the establishment of Unified Fishing Ordinances (UFOs).
The IEC in this instance was designed to educate local fisher folk around Pintuyan about the importance of marine protected area (MPA) establishment and management. Tom had designed a presentation in the local language, Visayan, which Pintuyan MAO could continue to use after his departure. The training day was designed to give Pintuyan MAO and Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) staff the opportunity to practice the presentation’s delivery. The presentation included a detailed explanation of laws from Pintuyan’s new UFO, some fun “Energiser” activities designed to keep everyone focussed and a round of the Peace Corp’s infamous MPA game.
Pintuyan’s new UFO included some innovative new legislation that would encourage the fisher folks’ cooperation. Each time one fisher sees another fisher illegally poaching from an MPA, the first fisher may call the local authorities with the details of the illegal fisher (e.g. provide a photo of the fisher or the name of the boat). The illegal fisher is then fined, relieved of his fishing gear and potentially imprisoned, depending upon the severity of the case. Half of the money obtained from that fine will then go towards future MPA management, whilst the remaining half of is given to the whistle-blower. The penalties greatly discourage illegal fishing within the MPA, whilst the monetary incentive greatly encourages the cooperation of fisher folk.
The MPA game utilises different sized sweets to represent fish in the ocean. The participants are then asked to “fish” the ocean by removing sweets. Any large “fish” (or sweets) left in the ocean produce offspring (small sweets), whilst any small fish left in the ocean grow into larger fish for the next round. A common occurrence during the MPA game is complete overexploitation. Participants remove all fish (sweets) from the ocean, leaving future generations unable to fish. The game, therefore, is able to clearly demonstrate the implications of overfishing. A modified version of the game includes the implementation of an MPA (an area from which participants are not allowed to take sweets). When participants abide by the MPA rules and do not fish within the MPA, they are able to see the importance of MPAs for replenishing surrounding waters, which they are allowed to fish.
The training day was a great success and Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) look forward to assisting Pintuyan MAO present the IEC to fisher folk throughout Pintuyan.