08 June 2016

World Ocean's Day!

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

02 June 2016

Blue Halo Meet and Greet

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

 

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

01 June 2016

Barangay  Candayuman survey results presentation

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

 

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

 

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

31 May 2016

Punta Community Day

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

27 May 2016

Punta Reef Rangers Day

On Friday a group of teenagers from Barangay Punta visited the Coral Cay Conservation base to become Reef Rangers.  This great group of young conservationists learned all about coral reef ecology, different fish species, threats to coral reefs, and how to protect them.  After brushing up on their reef knowledge and identification skills they all headed out onto Napantao MPA house reef for a hands on snorkelling adventure.  The Reef Rangers also participated in an ocean themed scavenger hunt, a food chain race, and Marine Protected Area and ocean themed trivia.  On successful completion of all these activities all 14 of the Punta visitors graduated to become certified Reef Rangers, well done all!

The group race across the beach at the CCC base!

26 May 2016

CCC attends the San Francisco Ocean Forum

On May 26th Coral Cay Conservation Field Base Manager, Oliver McGuinness, spoke at the San Francisco Ocean Forum about CCC projects, the coral triangle, and the importance of coral reefs.  The event was organized to celebrate May as the Month of the Ocean.  Other speakers included:

Armando Ordiz Gaviola from the Provincial Environment & Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO) who spoke about the role of local government in marine conservation. Former CCC scholar, Jerome Jack Napala from Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) who spoke about coral restoration.

Last but not least Natasha Kunesch with the Marine Protected Areas Research Group (MPARG) who talked about remote sensing and coral mapping. 

 

The event was well attended with locals from San Francisco, Napantao, and Punta, plus Barangay Captains and Bantay Dagats.

11 May 2016

CCC join the discussion at the UKOTCF

The CCC science team were invited today to represent Coral Cay Conservation at a meeting held by the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF), in association with the Montserrat government’s Department of the Environment. The UKOTCF are trying to implement methods of ensuring the preservation of Montserrat’s endemic flora and fauna, with particular emphasis on the forested areas on the southern side of the island, notably Roches.

 

Two volunteers were looking for input from the various assembled parties, including representatives of Blue Halo, the Department of Environment, the Disaster Management Committee and others, as to what they should be looking at on the south side and why it would be worthwhile to get work done there. Some of the assembled parties were quite vocal; there was quite a lot of input from Scriber (a very knowledgeable local ranger) in particular regarding the need to tackle the feral livestock problem in the area.

 

The parties discussed challenges and issues to be faced working in that area, with the key inputs being access, resources, legal challenges, and the small issue of an active volcano in the area! This has been the first meeting in what is to be a series of such gatherings, and we look forward to hearing what progress is made.

10 May 2016

Whale Shark Sighting in Estela, Liloan!

Project Scientist Marie Seraphim, and volunteers Jack Walton and Emily Jose were absolutely amazed to have a close encounter with a juvenile whale shark at Barangay Estela this week. The Coral Cay Conservation team has been surveying the waters of Barangay Estela for several weeks to determine the suitability for a potential MPA. There was much surprise when, while snorkelling in between dives, Project Scientist Marie saw a shark pass right by her side! Of course everyone jumped in the water and swam with this beautiful fish. Whale sharks are the biggest fish on Earth but this one must have been a juvenile as it was only approximately 3 or 4 meters long. This lucky encounter was made even more special by the fact that it is not currently whale shark season in Southern Leyte and we had not seen any sharks since January. Definitely a story to remember for many years to come. 

07 May 2016

Learning all about Explorers!

This weeks’ library session was a busy one, with about sixteen of Montserrat’s youngest turning out to listen (more or less) to CCC Science Officer, Tom Weigall’s, talk about famous explorers. Talk of Francis Drake’s pirating days had the group quite excited, and when the talk turned to more modern adventurous explorers one young lad said that he wants to be the first Montserratian to climb Everest! It was such a joy to see that kind of self-motivation! The craft session also had them pretty excited with the idea of making their own flags to wave around and claim new lands!  Overall we had a good little session down in Brades!

 

As always, we’d like to thank the staff at Brades Public Library for their help and support, the guys at ZJB Radio for getting the word out and the youngsters themselves, along with their parents and guardians, for turning up and making the session worthwhile!

02 May 2016

Dive against Debris

This month Coral Cay volunteers have completed a Dive Against Debris in collaboration with PADI Project Aware. This dive will add to the global survey of underwater rubbish in our ocean.

 

In the Philippines the pollution of our reefs is a major issue so this May Coral Cay volunteers tackled the problem and spent the day collecting debris in Napantao house reef. The garbage collected included rubber, plastic, fishing lines wrapped around coral, a tin can and a piece of cardboard. We are proud to say that the rubbish that was removed can no longer harm marine life in Napantao. The data that was reported is now recorded on the Project Aware website and will hopefully help drive real change in marine debris research and waste management.

23 April 2016

Learning all about Fighting Fish!

For Science Officer, Peta Day’s, third library session the theme of fish that fight was chosen! The class looked at why fish fight and do not simply swim away, and the defences of some different fish; triggerfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, lion fish and scorpionfish. The presentation was ended with the important fact that these cool fish (usually) don’t seek to hurt people but are just using the defences they are equipped with to protect themselves and their territories. So, although it always pays to be careful, they should take the chance to go in the sea and check some of them out. Some of them seemed really keen!

The craft session consisted of the children drawing one of the fish from the presentation, or letting their imaginations run wild and creating their own fighting fish. Peta noticed there weren’t as many wild creations as they’ve seen in the past, but they did have a fish with boxing gloves on (Project scientist, Rory Graham’s, contribution)!

 

Overall, the turn out for the presentation was a little smaller than CCC would have liked, but many more arrived for the craft session. It turned out that many of the children are in the local choir and they had rehearsals for most of the morning. CCC volunteers, Jessica and Julia, really got into the session and helping the children with their designs, and are looking forward to being involved for the rest of their stays.  

20 April 2016

Bantay Dagat Law Enforcement workshop

On April the 20th, Coral Cay Conservation hosted a workshop on Bantay Dagat Law Enforcement. Bantay Dagats, also known as the Sea Patrol, are a dedicated group of local Filipinos who enforce the laws of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This is achieved by both land and sea patrols, the main aim of which is to prevent both illegal fishing and the use of damaging fishing methods. Bantay Dagats are also responsible for collecting MPA fees from visiting SCUBA divers, which then goes into funding the local economy.

We were thrilled to receive 14 participants during this training including Bantay Dagats from Napantao and Punta, and speakers PNP Chief Inspector Rodrigo Amper as well as Sir Servando Tio, Sanguniang Bayan Secretary for the day.

 

The day started off with a presentation from our Project Scientist, Marie Seraphim, on the importance of MPAs and effective MPA management. This was followed by a talk from Philippine National Police Precinct, Chief Inspector Rodrigo C. Amper on Law Enforcement and how to apprehend illegal fishing. The day was ended with a talk from Sir Servando Tio on Coastal Management, the Fisheries Code and implementing rules and regulations.

9 and 23 April 2016

Reef Rangers with LAMAVE!

On the 9th and 23rd of April, Coral Cay joined the Large Marine Vertebrates Group (LAMAVE) for their own Reef Rangers events. These fun days included quizzes, a presentation regarding the local reef and a snorkelling tour in front of the town of Pintuyan.


At Coral Cay we believe that children are often already aware of the importance of our oceans and seas, so we love to show them how beautiful reef and marine animals are.

Fun game on the impacts animals and humans are having on the marine ecosystem

Scuba Instructors Charlotte Hesterman and Dominic Revell, Community Liaison Officer Jesse Tinapay and long-term volunteer Mark Hall joined LAMAVE during some of their first Reef Rangers events to lend a hand. They were happy to talk the kids through safety procedures while snorkelling and take them in the water for a few hours of exploring.

 

Seasnakes, Pipefish, Anemonefish, Seastars and others joined the party. The local kids made a point of having their instructors go duck diving to pick up trash on the seafloor to prevent animals accidentally eating it.

 

Coral Cay would like to thank LAMAVE for the opportunity to work together. Hopefully we can join forces in different ways and create even more awareness about marine conservation.

04 April 2016

Dive Against Debris

Coral Cay is thrilled to announce that they have successfully completed a Dive Against Debris in collaboration with PADI Project AWARE. Divers have a proud history of removing rubbish from the ocean but despite our best efforts the trash keeps piling up. In response Project AWARE created Dive Against Debris, a global survey of underwater rubbish in our ocean.

 

In the Philippines the pollution of our reefs is a major issue so this April Coral Cay volunteers tackled the problem and removed 2kg of trash off Napantao house reef in only 30 minutes! The garbage collected included rice bags, cigarette filters, fishing lines wrapped around coral, shampoo packaging and glass bottles. We are proud to say that the rubbish that was removed can no longer harm marine life in Napantao. The data that was reported is now recorded on the Project AWARE website and will hopefully help drive real change in marine debris research and waste management.

2 April 2016

Reef Rangers in Napantao!

Coral Cay Conservation was delighted to receive 24 local children of Barangay Napantao over at their base for a Reef Rangers event on the 2nd of April 2016. During this event, students had the opportunity to become guardians of the reef and to learn more about marine ecology and conservation. 

After a brief introduction with staff and volunteers, students gathered in the Science room for a day of lectures and games. The children learned many new interesting facts about coral and fish biology and had fun playing the “MPAmazing!” game. In the afternoon, everyone jumped in the pristine waters of Napantao house reef to experience the magic of the underwater world first hand. It was a truly exhilarating snorkelling experience.

 

In the evening Coral Cay organised a movie night and screened the award winning animated movie “Song of the Sea”. Children and adults alike were delighted by the beautiful ocean themed graphics. A full and fun day for both Coral Cay and Napantao residents!

26 March 2016

Learning all about Endemic Species!

Photo courtesy of Rory Graham

In Science Officer, Peta’s, second library session we looked at endemic species of Montserrat, one of the many things that make this little island unique. These ranged from the small but beautiful Montserrat Orchid to the national bird, the Montserrat Oriole. Montserrat has an incredible number of endemic species, both plants and animals for such a small island. The kids really enjoyed learning about the reptiles on the island and the two species of snakes in particular, the blind snake and the southern leeward racer.

 

Once all the questions were asked and answered we moved on to the craft session. This week the science team had made 4 different colours of play dough so we could make our own endemic species. There were many volcanos as that is what the kids know about but these were then joined by a Godzilla to protect the volcanos! Snakes and lizards soon followed with even some coral making an appearance (although that may have been staff :)).

 

All in all, even though it was a smaller turnout than usual, probably owing to the Easter celebrations on the island, it was a good session and was great as a back-up plan for the volunteers (Ed and Shannon) who unfortunately weren't able to get in the water due to water conditions, they both really enjoyed it and want to get involved in more while they are here.

18 March 2016

PAME Meeting and Workshop

On the 18th of March CCC Project Scientist Marie Seraphim, and Community Liaison Officer Jesse Tinapay, attended the Protection Area Management Enhancement (PAME) meeting and planning workshop. The workshop was held at the SLSU Bontoc campus and managed by the Provincial Government Department Head Maam Eva Abad of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO). Attendees included several focal persons of LGUs Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Liloan, San Francisco and Pintuyan, DENR officials, BFAR offcials, and SLSU Bontoc academic staff and researchers.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss priority conservation areas in Sogod Bay and the implementation of 10 potential MPAs within the year 2016. The ultimate goal is to protect and conserve the marine biodiversity of the Bay, which has been identified as one of the Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines. During the workshop a Technical Working Group as well as several Committees were formed in which CCC will be participating. A project plan was therefore reviewed and targets were set for the effective set-up of new protected areas. CCC looks forward to the collaboration with PAME project partners on Socio-Economic and Habitat Assessments of those proposed areas.

12 March 2016

Learning all about Crustaceans!

Photo courtesy of Tom Weigall

This Saturday saw the next instalment of our library workshops in Brades, looking at marine crustaceans. Unfortunately due to St Patrick's day (a day very much celebrated in Montserrat) turn out was on the lower side but we had a good number for our craft session. The kids were really interested in the content of the presentation, which is always lovely to see, including some rather horrified reactions at the prospect of eating crabs! Rather a good thing given what CCC is trying to do on island! The craft session involved a game; roll a dice and collect a crab body part corresponding to the number you roll, which you can then stick to a paper plate representing the shell. The staff team were quite surprised to find that the kids tended towards realism, wanting eight or so legs with two claws and two eyes, rather than the weird and wonderful creations we have to come to expect, and secretly rather enjoy :). Though some made up for it with quite excessive use of sequins. All in all it was a great success, and the kids enjoyed themselves!

 

As always, we’d like to extend our gratitude to the staff at Brades Public Library for their assistance, the folks at ZJB Radio for getting the word out, and to the kids themselves, along with their associated parents and guardians, for making the sessions so enjoyable!

07 March 2016

SLSU Founding Party

Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) celebrated its 12th anniversary recently and CCC staff members Olly McGuinness and Jesse TInapay were invited to attend. Olly and Jessel were well fed, given a tour around the campus, in particular the SLSU Bontoc Biology classroom, and entertained by a fusion of modern and traditional dances, all of which had a marine conservation theme to them. CCC welcomes a number of SLSU students via our Scholarship program each year so it was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the Uni and meet the staff and pupils. 

27 February 2016

Learning all about Whales!

For this fortnight's library session Science Officer, Peta Day took the chance to give a presentation about migrating whales Specifically Humpbacks and Sperm whales, both of which excitingly can be spotted off Montserrat's coast at this time of year as they take their yearly migration.

 

After the presentation it was time for the eagerly awaited craft session where the aim was to make whales, complete with spouts, from paper plates. This went down really well and kept the children busy and bustling with various whales having some funky designs, we are loving the creativity!

27 February 2016

Dive for Debris!

CCC staff, and volunteers: Marissa and Jackie, were on the front line of the battle against litter recently when they joined 'Dive for Debris' at Carr's Bay, Montserrat. This excellent local beach clean event was organised by Charley (Montserrat's local Scuba Instructor) to raise awareness in the local community of the impact that littering can have. Every piece of rubbish was catalogued and recorded for the Dive for Debris project.

 

In total 60lb was taken out of the sea by the divers led by Charley, and 90lb taken from the beach by CCC and other people within the community. Well done to everyone involved!

13 February 2016

Learning all about Predators

This weeks’ library session was on the topic of Predators. Tom Weigall (Science Officer) thought that after Animal Defences a few weeks back, it was the perfect opportunity to do the flipside. The presentation was very well received and the students stayed really interested and engaged throughout the whole thing. A library session wouldn’t be complete without an activity and craft session so first the students were challenged to complete a matching card game with pairs of predator and prey (as shown below). The craft element then involved making mobiles consisting of a predator and an appropriate prey. There was a great variety with different type of fish and terrestrial animals like birds and insects.

 

We would like to thank Brades library for hosting the library session, ZJB radio for advertising the session and the children for showing up enthusiastic and willing to learn.