09 October 2015

Gudan Community Education Day

Back in July of 2015 CCC carried out a full biophysical survey of the reefs of Barangay Gudan, in the hopes of setting up a new Marine Protected Area (MPA). The site was full of life with many rare organisms sighted, including the elusive Flamboyant Cuttlefish! The area is also home to ‘Olly’s Wall’, a very popular dive site in Sogod Bay and it did not disappoint.


We are looking forward to the establishment of this new MPA in the coming months and, in preparation, invited Barangay Captain Albert Albarca and members of his community along to our base in Napantao for a day of reef-based education.


The morning started with a tour of base by our Field Base Manager, Olly and an introduction to Coral Cay in the Philippines by Project Scientist, Shannon. This was followed by a lesson on coral biology; the group were enthralled to learn that coral is an animal which uses tiny algae to produce food from sunlight! Volunteers and Divemasters-in-training Charlie, Zach and Josh then gave excellent lectures on different species of corals, invertebrates and fish found on the reef.

After learning about what coral reefs are and why they are so important, Community Liaison Officer, Jesse, explained how reefs are threatened across the globe, leading to a discussion on how we can work to protect them. Everyone was eager to learn about MPAs and the benefits they can bring for the community; talk quickly turned to ‘Olly’s Wall’ and how Gudan could work to protect it for future generations.


After an in-depth discussion it was time for lunch. As always, our resident chef, Tata cooked up a storm! There was just time for a quick group photo before Captain Albert had to dash off for an important meeting in his own community. Having learned a lot, the group kindly expressed their gratitude to CCC for the day and went off feeling very happy with full brains and full bellies.


In the coming weeks, we plan to return to Gudan to present the results of our MPA survey to the entire community. We hope that we will be able to encourage others to snorkel the site with us and see for themselves what the coral reefs of Gudan really have to offer!

07 October 2015

Catig MPA Survey – Presentation of Results

In August 2015, CCC completed a full survey of the waters of Barangay Catig in the Municipality of Liloan. The purpose of this survey was to find the best location of a new MPA. Our survey found that the coral reefs in Catig had lots to offer and would greatly benefit from protection.


The community is at the heart of everything we do here at CCC and it is hugely important that, before any action is taken, we discuss our findings with those who they will impact the most. So, on Wednesday 7th October PS Shannon and CLO Jesse travelled to Catig to meet with Barangay Captain Manulito and members of the local fishing community to present our results and discuss the future of Catig MPA!


That morning we were warmly welcomed and accommodated in the Official Barangay Hall by members of the Council and joined by Ma’am Benita Dipay, Fisheries Officer for the Municipal Agricultural Office of Liloan. The group paid close attention as we introduced ourselves and told them a bit about CCC and our work here in the Philippines before discussing the results of our survey. Everyone was fascinated to see pictures of life on the reef and whole heartedly agreed that an MPA would be a great addition to the Barangay of Catig. 

In the coming months, a new MPA and Marine Reserve will be established in Catig. Our results have been presented and recommended boundary coordinates sent to the Municipality of Liloan and the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resource Management Office (PENRMO) for the preparation of an official ordinance. When the time comes, CCC will assist in the installation of marker buoys for the final step in establishing the Marine Sanctuary. We are very, very proud to be involved in this endeavour! 

05 - 10 October 2015

Rise of the Nudi Hunter!

It’s been a busy week at the CCC base in Napantao as the team have been working hard to revamp our survey boat and get it back in the water for its next scientific voyage!

The first step in this endeavour was getting the boat out of the water – not an easy feat! Coral Cay staff and volunteers were happily joined by a group of willing helpers from the local village to push and pull the boat in to place on Napantao beach. 

Since then it’s been all hands on deck – literally! Volunteers have been working around the clock to bring the Nudi Hunter up to scratch with a new paint job and so far she looks great. Stay posted for the final reveal!

26 September 2015

Learning about People of the World

With the last library session of their illustrious careers Science Officers Mike Soltysiak and Sean Smith have now handed over the reins to their competent replacements Kate Hickey and Aman Mottaqui-Tabar. It was a bittersweet session with a good turnout of regulars and new kids. With the new team on site ideas have been flying around the Taj with everyone keen to make this last session a great one. Aman’s ideas came out on top with this week focusing on people of the world with a strong emphasis on the Philippines and all the work Coral Cay is doing in the Pacific.


Key to this week’s session was the craft and after quickly learning how other people and children live around the world it was time to start up Coral Cay’s first pen-pal program! In order to spread understanding and break down cultural barriers we had the children write a letter and draw something for the kids in the Philippines. Regular star, Joshua, was quick to take up the challenge letting all the Filipino kids know how big his muscles are and the name of his dog. Other letters were more to script with kids sharing their favourite activities and foods. The drawings were exceptional as well with pictures of Montserrat’s national flower and bird featuring strongly. Some of the kids went the extra mile and wrote in Spanish (thanks google translate) after discovering the language is widely spoken in the Philippines. Big thanks to the new Science Officers who made a huge first effort and seemed to really enjoy what is our favourite part of the week.

12 September 2015

Learning all about Natural Disasters 

With only a few weeks left on site Science Officers Sean Smith and Mike Soltysiak were keen to pull out all the stops and go all out on their penultimate library session!


Having been cooped up on site with two tropical storms rolling through one after another hurricanes and natural disasters were at the forefront of our minds. With hurricane season currently reaching its peak we thought it would be a great idea to educate the kids on disasters and disaster management around the world.


Montserrat and the Caribbean in general are no stranger to natural disasters. Located in the tropics and on the edge of a small tectonic plate leave the area open to a host of earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. All the children were already well informed on disasters in general and were able to enthusiastically answer all our introductory questions. Numbers were way up, school holidays are over and the regular attendees who were off island have flocked back to the Brades library. It meant for a rambunctious session with the boys constantly adding additional comedic material to the presentation. Apart from general information on tornadoes, earthquakes etc. the presentation provided information on Montserrat’s specific disaster policies and what the children and their families should do in case of emergency.

Before long it was time to craft again, the craft was particularly appealing to the boys and their destructive nature this week. Children were to make their own hurricane shelters out of cardboard and glue and see if they could withstand the force of our pedestal fan hurricane. Coral Cay staff also brought a homemade volcano with them and let it off multiple times to keep the masses appeased.


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

11 - 13 September 2015

CCC attends the Diving Resort Travel Diveshow, in Manila, Philippines

Between the 11th - 13th September Field Base Manager, Olly and Education Officer, Maricris were invited to join the Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte stall at the Diving Resort Travel Dive show. The stall, organised by The Department of Tourism (PGSL), was attended by a number of dive shop and hotel owners from Southern Leyte hoping to encourage tourism around the bay. 


This 3 day event was a great chance to network with local businesses and other green organisations based around the Philippines. It was also a fantastic opportunity for Olly and Maricris to spread the word about Coral Cay's work and the scholarship program, an aim greatly helped by the fact that Olly was requested to talk on-stage about the conservation efforts of Sogod Bay. This was the first time that CCC has attended this event and it was heralded a great success!

3 September 2015

Bantay Dagat Training for Napantao and Catig, Philippines

CCC’s Napantao base bustled with activity again, as it opened its doors to community members from Barangays Catig and Napantao for another activity-filled Bantay Dagat Training Day.   After the usual exchange of greetings and smiles between base residents and the locals, six participants from Catig and seven participants from Napantao got a quick tour around base from Field Base Manager Olly McGuinness.  What’s inside Coral Cay has always piqued the curiosities of some, and the dive equipment demonstration and walkthrough gave them a better picture.


Everyone headed into the science room were interesting lectures on reef ecology, coral lifeforms, target fish families, and invertebrates were thoroughly discussed by Project Scientist Shannon Cameron, and a bunch of volunteers from Australia and the UK.  Local staff, Jesse Tinapay, gave a well-received lecture on dangerous marine animals, full of practical knowledge that got a lot of feedback as it awakened a sense of caution and interest.  Education Officer Maricris (Maki) Calilung explained a few snorkelling guidelines before the group teamed up and drew the name of their snorkelling guides from our dive masters in training, volunteers and local staff.


Donned with their snorkelling gear everyone listened up as UK volunteer Charlie Riddick gave a rundown of reminders and objectives in her briefing.  Dive Instructor Yann Walliser was in charge of overall safety as shore marshal.  Prior to getting into the water, everyone smiled for the group photo, and then, off they went to meet the marine creatures of Napantao.  Some were more confident than others.  The first-timers had a mix of excitement and apprehension, but in the end, the enthusiasm pushed them to make the most of the experience.


After a hearty lunch, participants got their time to speak out and share their personal experiences with the group.  They spoke about the thrill of seeing the vibrancy of the butterflyfish, parrotfish, damselfish, rabbitfish, triggerfish, and a host of other marine creatures living not so far from shore.  They were also surprised to see how big the fish could grow within the sanctuary.

Maki, Shannon, and Jesse took turns in informing the trainees of the more serious topics of reef threats and their impacts, and how these can possibly be reversed or improved by setting up an MPA.  This discussion sheded light on a relevant yet sensitive topic, which has always been the subject of refute due to a lack of information and understanding.  The lecturers covered the benefits of having an MPA, some ordinances that need to be informed, as well as some guidelines on how to effectively manage a marine protected area and its surroundings.


Two case studies, that of Sumilon Island, the first established MPA in the Philippines, and Apo Island, one of the best managed MPAs in the Philippines, are given as examples.  The trainees were in awe as they watced a video presentation on the beauty and bounty of the Apo Island’s healthy reefs and teeming marine life.  Jesse facilitated the open forum where the participants asked questions about alternative livelihood, and shared their plans for the immediate future.  The Catig trainees were very enthusiastic about their MPA after seeing some photos and videos of the proposed area.  They were particularly looking forward to getting the result and setting up the marker buoys they expect to receive from a sponsoring organization.  The Napantao Community Association (NACOA) decided to organize a beach clean-up over the weekend to kick off their upcoming plans.


Before the day’s ends, everyone leaves CCC inspired and enlightened from the new learning they gained—a sign of more good things to come!

29 August 2015

Learning all about Lionfish!

With the CCC Montserrat team working hard on a Lionfish removal programme, we thought it was high time that we educate the local children and bring them up to date with the current situation in the Caribbean.


Lionfish are relatively new to the area with the first recorded sightings off the coast of Florida in 1985. In three short decades they have spread rapidly becoming ubiquitous on coastal coral reefs. They have a huge impact on the local ecology, predating on masses of juvenile fish to the detriment of other predators such as Snapper and Groupers. Lionfish grow rapidly, consuming vast quantities of fish and coming to sexual maturity after only 6 months. In this adult phase they can produce eggs every 5 days with this young quickly establishing themselves on any reef. This Lionfish explosion can actually be traced back to 6 or 7 individuals who were probably released from aquaria in the United States.

The kids were amazed to hear all these facts and shared stories of their encounters with Lionfish on the reefs around Montserrat. Science Officer, Mike Soltysiak, did a great job communicating some difficult scientific concepts and getting the kids enthusiastic to learn about the local ecology. We then discussed solutions with the kids and had them all keen to spread the message at home. The session finished with an hour and a quarter of crafting which as usual was not enough! The kids and adults got to colour in various lionfish outlines and cut these out to produce a hanging mobile. These were very popular with some kids who were initially going to give them as presents changing their minds and bringing them home themselves.


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

15 August 2015

Venturing into the prehistoric era!

Excitement was high in camp this week with a library session planned on dinosaurs. As a favourite childhood topic for all the staff, preparations on the lecture and craft went ahead with gusto.


With summer holidays continuing the turnout was still down, however the boys that showed up made up for it with loads of questions and enthusiasm. All the children are regular attendees and it is great for Coral Cay to build an ongoing relationship with the face of Montserrat’s future. The lecture initially provided context on the era of the dinosaurs including a science heavy section on fossils and aging rock layers. The focus quickly shifted to some interesting dinosaur species with the children enjoying a lively discussion on the evolutionary advantage of certain traits. The lecture moved through all the herbivores and carnivores before continuing to the flying and marine prehistoric creatures. Special interest was shown in the Quetzalcoatlus ; a flying dino five times bigger than a person!

The craft was a great success with all the children getting far more Play-Doh than they needed. With only a quarter of the usual turnout we had enough for the staff to have a play around and compete for the best triceratops (Mike definitely wins!). A few extra kids turned up late and got involved in the crafting. All in all it was a great library session with CCC staff feeling they have a good handle on communicating scientific concepts to children of all ages.


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

01 August 2015

The underwater world of Montserrat

After previously focusing on large scale issues in the marine and terrestrial environment CCC staff felt that it was time to pull the focus a little closer to home. We wanted to get the kids excited about the environment around them and provide some information they can use in their day-to-day lives. With this in mind Sean Smith (Science Officer) and Heidi Taylor (Scuba Instructor) gave a presentation on the Underwater World of Montserrat.


The lecture aimed to be a snapshot of what the children could see on the coast and on the reefs around the island. We were excited to share anecdotes of all the marine life we encounter in our work and Heidi Taylor in particular had some amazingly tall tales for the kids! Even with school holidays the turnout was good with 10 – 15 kids showing up.


The lecture was one of the best we have ever given. We incorporated a lot more questions than usual and made the session more participatory and the children really responded. We began with all the beautiful beaches around the island and discussed the best places to snorkel at each one. The kids were then amazed to see all the coral and fish life so close to some of the places they live. One of the younger boys, Cason, was especially shocked by some of the weirder creatures under the sea. Pictures of Trumpet fish and Flying Gurnards were met by a loud RIDICULOUS in his amazingly Caribbean accent. As usual the session closed with a take home message about conservation. This week we focused on littering, a message that the children can hopefully act upon around the island.


Craft preparation was very labour intensive this week with staff cutting out 10 larger than life cardboard scuba masks. These were then filled in by the children with all their favourite coral and fish from the lecture. Glitter paint and crayons were the theme of the day with hilariously mixed results coming from the boys and girls tables. Most of the kids got a mask to take home and I think we definitely achieved our aim and got the kids excited to get in the water and hopefully to value all the amazing creatures the Montserrat has to offer.


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

05 July 2015

This weeks' library session is all about monkeys!

After a lecture on migrations last week the Science Team prepared a great lecture for this week, especially for the UK girl’s school group that were joining CCC as volunteers, and helping with the library session.


Sean, the science officer, began the morning by delivering an ape-mazing lecture about monkeys and apes (our theme for the day!).  We started by discussing the difference between monkeys and apes; we then had to classify pictures of different species into these two categories. We learnt about the monkeys found in the Caribbean as well as other notable species around the world.


The children were fascinated by all the amazing facts, particularly the existence of service monkeys that are trained to help people just like guide dogs. After lots of enthusiastic questions and general monkeying around… we began our craft activity; making paper plate monkey masks. We had a range of primate produced- a pretty monkey, a pirate ape and a scary gorilla! There were lots of sequins, colouring-in and fun had by all involved. We only wish we had had a little more time to finish the masks as we had a lot of late arrivals.


After seeing how alike our hands are to apes, we wanted to take a closer look at our own fingerprints by printing them. We discussed how our fingerprints are unique and identified the shapes as arches, whorls or spirals.  


The children were very excited to have so many girls to talk to and asked the students lots of questions about themselves. The school goup loved teaching them some silly songs and jokes, hopefully these will go down well with parents!


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

01 July 2015

CCC Attends the 55th Founding Anniversary of Southern Leyte

Since the year 1960, every 1st of July the founding anniversary and independence of Southern Leyte has been celebrated in the Provincial Capital of Maasin. This year CCC was invited along to the 55th Founding Anniversary with the inspiring theme ‘I Love Southern Leyte’.


Daisy Gamale, from the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte, kindly organised for the whole CCC team to spend the night before in the currently unused Girl Scouts area of the Philippines building, right in the centre of the action. The celebrations kicked off that night with an outdoor party in a sunken garden overlooked by the Provincial Capitol Building. Much to the enjoyment of our scholars and volunteers, Maasin put on a live concert headlined by Filipino reggae band ‘Franco’ and followed by a disco that went on into the early hours of the morning.


At 7 am the group were out of bed and in position in the Anatalio Gaviola Plaza to join the parade which journeyed through the sunny streets of Maasin. We were escorted by the moves and music of local Drum and Bugle corps and finished up back at the sunken garden where we were warmly welcomed by PGSL officials on stage, including the Governor himself, the Honourable Sir Roger Mercado.

After the parade we proceeded to the nearby tree garden where a good friend of Coral Cay, Sir Rio Cahambing was hosting a photo exhibition of marine life in Southern Leyte. A number of the photographs were taken by Coral Cay staff, with several snapped by our local Scuba Instructor Jesse Tinapay. We were all very proud to see Jesse’s work in the limelight and admired by all who looked upon them.


Coral Cay were extremely honoured and grateful to have been invited along to celebrate such a momentous occasion. We very much look forward to taking part next year and can say with great enthusiasm “We Love Southern Leyte!”

20 June 2015

Learning about migration!

After a lecture on World Oceans last week the Science Team prepared a great lecture on Migrations. The lecture covered both marine and terrestrial animals and included a host of interesting migratory species. Science Officer, Sean Smith, presented the lecture and started by outlining what migration is and why some species migrate. The children were shown a series of animals and asked why they think they would be migrating. The responses were great and the kids got a real kick out of the pictures and the opportunity to contribute.


The lecture worked through all the different types of migratory animals - birds, mammals, insects etc. Whilst the birds went a little slowly at first the kids were flabbergasted when they were shown pictures of the arctic tern and were told that it flies the equivalent distance of three times to the moon and back over its lifetime! The other attention grabber was the Christmas Island red crab which migrates in numbers up to 100 million. It took some serious convincing for a group of kids who are quite happy to call you out if they don’t believe you!

The lecture closed with a section on human migration and a take home message about the importance of protecting migratory habitat. The kids were amazed at all the novel methods of assisting migrations in particular the fish ladders and habitat corridors.


As usual the kids were hopping to get onto the craft session! We decided to do something a bit more collaborative and contribute something to the library space. Using the projector the science staff traced a giant world map onto 16 A4 sheets. These were numbered and given out to the children to colour. Outlines of 6 migratory animals were painstakingly traced over a series of evenings on 25 single sheets. These were also coloured in by the kids. The best animals made it onto the poster which was put together after it was coloured. The library was more than happy to have it up although we hope for it to have its final home in the Taj. The idea was really successful with the kids really enjoying the collaborative process. 

08 June 2015

World Oceans Day Beach Clean 

Happy World Oceans Day everyone! This annual international event raises awareness of the importance of the world's oceans and how we must work to protect them. Events will be held around the world to mark this occasion and CCC is playing its part by holding beach cleans on both of our sites.


The staff and volunteers at CCC Montserrat got down and dirty for World Oceans Day with a beach and ocean clean at Carrs Bay! In only a single morning they were still able to make a big impact on the area. With two divers and two beach cleaners at any one time they collected a total of 14 bags of rubbish both from the beach and the reef just in front of the beach! The rubbish as expected was mainly tin cans but they were surprised to also remove several items of clothing which were wrapped around some of the gorgonians.


Unfortunately the team did not manage to remove all the rubbish but they will of course continue to remove any rubbish during dives on the site. Everyone had a satisfying (if hot) morning and the team's efforts were appreciated by a couple of local snorkelers who were just going in for snorkel as they finished. Nothing like spreading the word by showing that you’re willing to get stuck in yourself!

06 June 2015

Learning about our oceans

With World Ocean Day falling on the 8th June and the Atlantic Ocean right on our doorstep we decided to inform the children of Montserrat about the importance of oceans in this week’s library session.


Science Officer Mike Soltysiak led the presentation, beginning at the beginning! The children were amazed to learn about the ancient animals that used to inhabit the oceans, and that some of those ancient and weird looking creatures were still alive today, having survived through the ages. Mike then debunked some of the myths about the oceans, although some of the children were adamant that mermaids were real! The children already knew a lot about ocean explorers, since Mr. Christopher Columbus himself discovered the island of Montserrat – although he preferred the name of the Emerald Isle. The importance and the value of the oceans were then outlined, the children being amazed to discover that 70% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the marine environment – how can water possibly produce air? The presentation finished off with outlining to the kids the threats that oceans currently face on both a global and a local scale, and how they can help to reduce those threats.

In the craft session that followed the children made their own boats and the Captain’s hats to go with them, and credit has to go to Coral Cay volunteers Jenny Lantair, Gillian Leeder and Harry Woodger for their origami skills. Science Officer Sean Smith helped the children to decorate their boats and managed to avoid getting covered in glitter, although the odd sequin is to be expected!


Special thanks to all the staff at Brades Library for allowing us to transform their quiet and peaceful work environment every couple of weeks, to ZJB radio for spreading the word, and to the children themselves for returning every time with the same enthusiasm for knowledge that makes it such a pleasure to teach them!

25 May 2015

An open day in Montserrat

Staff and volunteers were up early on Monday morning to make the final preparations for the CCC Open Day. This is an annual event on the Montserrat site and is a chance for the staff and volunteers on site to get to know the locals, and for the locals to get to know CCC! After a final sweep up and preen of the Taj we waited expectantly. Guests are welcomed throughout the day so once a fair few had arrived Susan was the first to step up to the podium giving a presentation on how CCC are working with our partners to provide relevant data for future management planning. Susan also took the opportunity to explain the importance of both the terrestrial and marine environment of Montserrat to wildlife and the human population.

Claire Ogg (Field Base Manager and PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor) was excited to be able give a demonstration of SCUBA kit and how it works, with some visitors even getting the chance to go for a try dive in the site pool! Others were eager to watch the new documentaries on Montserrat’s marine and forest life, which have been produced by CCC staff.  Susan repeated the presentation for all those who had missed the first one and then enjoyed 15 minutes of fame being interviewed by ZJB radio, which had sent a reporter to record the event.


The final guest count was approximately 20 people. It was a busy day but a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. Well done to all the CCC staff and volunteers for creating such a successful event!

24 May 2015

Learning all about creepy crawlies!

Following the library session of two weeks ago involving plants, this weeks’ library session involved a group of organisms which have a very close relationship with the flora of the island – the wonderful world of creepy crawlies – insects!


Science Officer Mike Soltysiak got things kicked off  with a whirlwind definition of what an insect actually is – among other  things showing the kids that those bugs with too many legs (spiders, centipedes) or too few (worms) are not actually insects (which have 6). The kids were perplexed by the question of whether caterpillars (many legs) were part of the group until they remembered that they become butterflies which do have 6!

Following this Mike tried to combat some of the little ones distaste of insects, by showing them the incredibly useful products that we can gain from insects, such as honey and silk – evidently unsuccessfully when one girl announced she would never wear silk again! The children then learnt about some of the interesting insects on Montserrat, apparently pronouncing them wrong to the kids chagrin - the Tarantula Hawk Wasp and the Jack Spaniard Wasp shall henceforth be known as the Chillanchilla Hawk Wasp and the Jack Spanner!


Once the presentation was over the children went on to their favourite part – craft time! This week they were making cardboard butterflies – both as larger toys and as clips and badges. With a smaller than usual cohort due to the Bank Holiday weekend, the staff and volunteers of Coral Cay had a much calmer time of it than usual and even managed to make some of their own – sadly eclipsed by the kids magnificent efforts! Thanks again to Rose at ZJB radio for helping us to promote the library sessions, and to the staff at Brades Library for all their support!

23 May 2015

An interview at ZJB Radio

Susan (Project Scientist) and Mike (Science Officer) were recently invited on to Radio ZJB to promote the upcoming CCC Open Day and this weeks Library session. Initially Susan spoke about the plans for the Open Day and explained why it is a great chance to find out what CCC is doing on Montserrat and how we are helping to conserve the biodiversity. The Open Day had already been promoted on the local news when Rose had hilariously miss heard try dive for tie dye! This caused a little confusion which was successfully corrected prior to everyone arriving at the Taj expecting to make t-shirts!  Rose asked Susan to tell everyone about the CCC scholarship and the benefits and reward’s this could bring. Finally Mike took the opportunity for one final shout out to advertise the library session which was happening later that morning. This weeks’ session focused on insects. Rose warned us that many children did not necessarily like bugs but we don’t shy from a challenge! Thank you to Rose and the team at ZJB for helping us promote the events!

9 May 2015

A pun-tastic library session on plants!

This week during the library session the children of Montserrat were taught about the delights of the plant world by Science Officer Sean Smith. Sean began by explaining how plants live and grow – doubtless later the children were basking in the sun to try to grow bigger! Ploughing on, Sean explained the importance of plants to the world we live in, both globally for the production of Oxygen, and locally due to their importance in consolidating and trapping soil that would otherwise run off and leave the mountainous slopes bare.


The children then learned about some of the coolest plants in the world – including, among others, the tree that had been used as a jail, and plants that lure in insects to supplement their diet of light – much to the kids' disbeleaf. Branching out Sean explained the plant surveys that Coral Cay implement on Montserrat, to check the spread of several invasive plant species – hopefully putting thoughts in the kids heads which will take root and produce keen minds for the future conservation of the country's forests.

During the craft session after the lecture the children made plant based bracelets – planned to be for their mothers' for International Mother's Day the following day – but Sean had planted such an appreciation in the kid's head of the flora around them that the bracelets were going to be kept for themselves! With a bumper crop of children attending, Project Scientist Susan Robertson, Dive Instructor Andy “Uncle Grandpa” Allen  (who will be sorely missed by the children – they've taken a lichen to him), and Volunteer Astrid de Cosson. We would like to thank the staff at Brades Public Library and Rose at ZJB Radio for their thyme and support in helping spread the word!

11 April 2015

Reptiles of the world

After the success of the previous library session on Turtles we decided to take advantage of the kids enthusiasm and present on reptiles. We looked at reptiles around the world as well as focusing on endemic species, ending the lecture by informing the children of conservation issues facing reptiles worldwide. A special emphasis was placed on the unnecessary fear many people hold in regards to reptiles and how the children have nothing to fear from their island companions!!!


Science officer Hazel Thornton gave the lecture, it being her last one with CCC Montserrat and did a great job keeping the kids entertained with interesting facts from the scaly realm. Facts about all types of reptiles were included with the information given in a way that the children could understand and relate to. The age of the Aldabra Tortoise (150 years) was compared to the total age of children in the room and to the age of the oldest people the children knew. Everyone had a great time trying to taste the air in an imitation of snakes and lizards!!! Attendance was at a record high with over 30 children taking part in the session. Hopefully this excellent turnout can be repeated and built upon moving into the future.

The post lecture craft session involved making the children’s favourite reptiles out of playdough. Each child was given four colours and were guided by CCC staff and the example models that we toyed with in the week leading up. Science Officer Mike Soltysiak’s chameleon was a favourite with the group, the table of girls almost exclusively made chameleons much to the chagrin of the other staff (they are pretty hard to make). New Science Officer Sean Smith jumped straight into proceedings and looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself and getting involved with CCC’s community work.


Many thanks has to be given to volunteers Astrid and Hugo for throwing themselves into things and having a great time with the children. Astrid especially took it on herself to sit at the ‘naughty’ boys table. As always special thanks has to go to the staff of Brades library and ZJB Radio for helping promote and run the event. All the CCC staff are doing a great job of being visible in the Montserrat community, children from the sessions regularly come up to them around town and Hi-5’s seem to be the going form of communication!!!

06 April 2015

SLSU ECO-Club hosts CCC to learn about Marine Protected Areas

CCC Philippines is happy to announce that the students of Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) have just formed a new Environmentally Conscious Organization: ECO-Club! One of the objectives of the ECO-Club is to promote environmentally conscious behaviours to help protect natural resources in Southern Leyte. Later this year, the ECO-Club will be conducting outreach and education in the community and schools in the Sogod area. After meeting with the ECO-Club’s Advisor Dr. Dinah Catamco, CCC arranged to conduct a seminar-workshop for the student members to provide information and resources for them to use during their educational activities.


On Monday, April 6th CCC spent the morning at the SLSU’s main campus in Sogod for the event. After a welcome message from the University President, ECO-Club President Ronnie Robin introduced the guest speakers – CCC Alix Green (Project Scientist) and Tracy MacKeracher (Education Officer). The seminar kicked off with a presentation by Tracy to cover background information on coral reef biology and ecology. Most students were shocked to find out that although coral reefs are used by an estimated 25% of marine species, they occupy less than 1% of the marine environment! After discussing some of the human activities threatening coral reefs, the students learned about the importance and function of marine protected areas (MPAs). 

The last presentation, given by Alix, addressed the status of MPAs in the area and current management issues. With their newly acquired knowledge, the students split into groups to begin the workshop. The workshop involved looking at case studies of real MPAs in the Philippines to demonstrate the importance of effective MPA management. With the help of CCC staff and volunteers, the groups were able to get some great discussions going about the factors affecting success in the establishment and management of MPAs. The workshop was rounded off with some themed games that the ECO-Club will be able to use during their educational activities. After presenting CCC staff and volunteers with Certificates of Appreciation, the students surprised us with a cultural dance performance! The event was a huge success, and CCC looks forward to working with this amazing group of environmentally conscious, motivated young leaders again in the future.