25 July 2016

Napantao Community Day and Presentation of Survey Results

© Darienne Lancaster

On July 25th Barangay officials and community members from Napantao arrived at the Coral Cay Conservation base for a day of games, marine education, and a presentation of survey results from the 2015 assessment of the Napantao Marine Protected Area.


After a scavenger hunt and marine themed charades the group settled in for lectures on coral biology and lifeforms, native fish species, threats to coral reefs, and ways to protect them.  Coral Cay volunteers and staff took turns lecturing and sharing their love of the oceans with the local visitors.


The MPA egg game was also a big hit. This was designed by (scholar) Dionn Hubag, and involves protecting a raw egg (representing an MPA) with found materials before the opposite team attempts to smash it against the ground. 

© Claire Ogg

Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, also gave a presentation of results from the 2015 assessment of the Napantao MPA.  Overall the reef is very healthy but there is no difference in fish abundance inside compared to outside the MPA and there are no big fish in the area.  This suggests the MPA is not as effective as it could be if enforcement was increased and fishing pressure decreased.  Barangay Officials requested maps of the MPA boundaries be posted at the Barangay Office and on the beach so local fishers know where the MPA starts and ends.


The day was topped off by a snorkel adventure along the Napantao house reef.  The snorkelers visited Anemone City to see the clown fish and pointed out all the coral lifeforms they learned about during the morning presentations.  

23 July 2016

Dive Against Debris at Ghost Town

© Rachel Pedersen

Last week volunteers Danielle Contrada and Rachel Pederson headed out to the Ghost Town dive site in Barangay Santa Paz, San Francisco for a Dive Against Debris. Dive Against Debris is an important campaign to prevent rubbish from affecting coral reefs.  Plastics can smother corals and choke animals like turtles that often eat them by accident. The divers managed to collect over 40 pieces of trash in a single dive!  Items collected included pots, a toy truck, a baking tray, plastic bags, and hard plastic debris.  Great work keeping our oceans clean!

22 July 2016

CAASAFI High School Enjoy their First SeaStars Lesson

© Alex Wady

On July 22nd Community Liaison Officer Jesse Tinapay along with his assistant volunteer Alex Wady, headed to CAASAFI High School in San Francisco to give the first of three Sea Stars marine education lectures.  Jesse and Alex taught students in two different classes all about the marine life they can find in the oceans near them, as well as talking about threats to the oceans and tools they can use to protect the marine environment. This first lecture qualified the two groups of students as Bronze Star level Sea Stars. With each consecutive lecture the students will move up a level, eventually being certified as Gold Star Sea Stars, at this point the students will be invited to the CCC base in Napantao to participate in a Reef Rangers day. Jesse, Alex and the students had a great day playing games and learning about the ocean creatures and coral reefs that surround their town.

1 July 2016

Maasin Anniversary Celebration Parade

Photo credit - J.Tinapay

This month Coral Cay Conservation took part in the annual Maasin Anniversary Celebration Parade. Darienne Lancaster (Project Scientist), Maryann Watson (Science Officer), Jesse Tinapay (Communications Liasion Officer) and Gareth Turner (CCC Expedition Management Intern) all got to join the event. The parade was celebrating 56 years since the founding of Maasin in 1960.  The Coral Cay Team marched from downtown, Maasin Plaza, all the way to the Capital with the help of their fishy puppets.  It was a great chance to say hello to the people of Maasin, including the Maasin Senior Citizens Group who posed for a photo with the team.  We also found some fantastic helpers in the form of enthusiastic kids from the crowd, who carried our fishy puppets most of the way to the Capital.

30 June 2016

CCC head to Molopolo Fish Sanctuary

Before heading to Maasin for the annual parade Coral Cay headed to the Molopolo Fish Sanctuary for a snorkel.  This longstanding MPA has won numerous awards for the quality of its marine protection and biodiversity.  Coral Cay staff and volunteers hopped into the shallow waters to check out the amazing sea grass beds and sea urchins, and to search for stingrays.   They then headed out into deeper water to look for the black-tipped reef sharks and see the beautiful reef.  Molopolo Fish Sanctuary is an important Marine Protected Area because of its sea grass beds which provide essential nursery habitats for young fish before they move out onto the reef or into open water.  


This sanctuary is also working on a mangrove restoration project by replanting small mangrove trees along the shoreline.  Mangroves offer protection from waves and strong storms and are one of the best ways to prevent coastal erosion.

30 June 2016

CCC join in the Annual Maasin Football Match, Philippines

On June 30th the Coral Cay team headed to Maasin to participate in a friendly football match against a local, Maasin team.  Coral Cay’s team was small with only 8 players to their competitors 19.  Unpracticed and without proper gear, Coral Cay made up for their lack of training with ample enthusiasm and determination.   The Maasin competitors were also very generous and let us borrow their star keeper to defend our net.  The game was off to a good start until Project Scientist, Darienne Lancaster, scored an amazing goal on her own team.  Nevertheless, the Coral Cay team rallied and pushed back against their well-honed Maasin opponents! Despite the pouring rain and lack of substitute players, Coral Cay fought hard and managed to survive two halves. Volunteer Alex Wady, assisted by Science Officer, Maryann Watson, scored an impressive goal at the end of the last half, which brought the final score to 8-1 for Maasin.  The Maasin team was both extremely skilled and very sportsmanlike and the game finished with friendly handshakes, congratulations, and a photo to commemorate the epic match!

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.