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. 

02 May 2016

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.

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!

23 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.

08 February 2016

Presenting CCC's Findings at Barangay Himayangan

In September 2015, CCC completed a full survey of the waters of Barangay Himayangan 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 the Northern part of Himayangan would greatly benefit from protection and that there is certainly potential for a thriving ecosystem.


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 Monday 8th of February Project Scientist Marie, Community Liaison Officer Jesse and Research Scientist Joshua travelled to Himayangan to meet with Barangay Captain Eugene and members of the local fishing community.

After a warm welcome in the Official Barangay Hall, CCC staff presented the results of the Himayangan survey. The group paid close attention and discussed enthusiastically our findings on substrates, invertebrates, fish and coral health. 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 Himayangan.


In the coming months, a new MPA and Marine Reserve will be established in Himayangan. 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 proud to be involved in this endeavour! 

02 February 2016

Himayangan Community Day

CCC’s base opened its doors again to community members from Barangay Himayangan for a training day on the 2nd of February. The activities and the learning experience sure made up for the rainy weather on that day.


Participants grouped for morning lectures on reef ecology, coral lifeforms, target fish families, and invertebrates presented by Project Scientist Marie, Community Liaison Officer Jesse and volunteers Mark and Tine. Before lunch CCC snorkelling guides took the group to explore the beautiful Napantao MPA.  After meeting the marine creatures of Napantao, everyone joined for a group photo, tired but happy with the morning’s events.

After a well-deserved lunch, CCC volunteers informed the trainees of the more serious topics of reef threats and their impacts, and how these can possibly be reversed. This raised a lot of interest from the participants and led to an interesting discussion on the effects of climate change and MPA benefits. The possibility of setting up an MPA in their Barangay waters will soon be discussed with Himayangan officials. The day ended with the screening of a BBC video on coral reefs. Everyone left CCC inspired and enlightened by the new information they had gained—a sign of more good things to come.

30 January 2016

CAASAFI High School join CCC for Reef Rangers  

CCC was delighted to receive 12 students of CAASAFI high school over at their base for a Reef Rangers event on the 30th of January 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 morning of lectures and games. Students learned many new interesting facts about coral and fish biology. They were then taken snorkelling on the pristine Napantao house reef to experience the magic of the underwater world first hand. Volunteer guides pointed to many different coral, fish, nudibranchs and two students were even lucky to spot a rare sea snake! After resting from the swim, the afternoon comprised of more lectures on coral reef threats and advice on how to protect the reef. It truly was a day full of adventure and fun.


Congratulations to all of the CAASAFI students who did wonderfully on the course and all proudly graduated as Reef Rangers on that day! CCC hopes to see you again soon.

27 - 28 January 2016

CCC joins in on Napantao Day!

On the 27th and 28th of January Coral Cay were honoured to be invited to the 8th annual Founding day festival of Napantao known as Napantao Day. On the 27th Napantao held the Music and dance competition. This had the different poroks competing against one another in Modern dance, Folklore Dance and Hawaiian dance as well as singing competitions in Solo, duets and Duble Kara. CCC staff members Olly McGuinness and Joshua Milne, and volunteer Harry Simmons were asked to judge the competition. They had a great time watching the vast variety of performances with all involved giving it their all. 


The next night we were all invited back to the village for a village wide meal and to watch all the winning performances from the previous day. At the end of the night there was a disco and a few of us joined in dancing alongside all the kid teaching them some Western moves. Every one of the Coral Cay members greatly enjoyed being a part of the festivities, joining in the meal and playing with all the kids of the village. CCC are very thankful that we were invited to join our neighbours in celebrating their founding. 

16 January 2016

Learning all about Animal Defences

CCC’s first library session of 2016 and also our new SO, Tom Weigall’s, first time delivering a presentation at the library, and things seemed to go well! Our topic for today was animal defences, which the kids embraced with much enthusiasm – we covered topics including spikes, running away, armour, size, camouflage and warning colours, and as usual the kids impressed us with their own range of knowledge of some of those topics. One of the smaller kids did say that she’d seen a whale in her toilet; we suspect there has been some misidentification, and wonder if a presentation on whales might be worthwhile in the future! 

Our craft session was nice and simple, involving the students drawing around some animal templates we’d cut out prior to the session and adding their own defence mechanisms as they wished – some kids approached this with real creativity, resulting in phenomena such as snakes with 18 eyes, venomous spikes and the armour of an armadillo, and an unforgettable rat with long legs, vicious claws, and a mounted heavy machine gun. We are looking forward to coming up with some even more creative ideas for craft in the future, but for this weekend, it seemed to suffice!

7 January 2016

Tabugon Sanctuary  gets its marker bouys!

On the 7th of January, CCC was contacted to help set up marker buoys at the Tabugon MPA and Sanctuary. This was a great way to start the year and our Project Scientist Marie Seraphim, and Research scientist Joshua Milne, joined the Municipal Agricultural Office of Liloan staff. Armed with GPS, they jumped on the boat and found the boundaries of the MPA. This was the result of years of hard work. In 2014 Liloan expressed the need for surveys of the Tabugon MPA and volunteers from Coral Cay Conservation undertook a one month monitoring of the area.  As a result of this hard work and robust research, it was decided to alter the boundaries of the MPA to better protect marine life in the region. With the new marker buoys fisherfolk can easily distinguish the boundaries of the new Sanctuary. This will not only protect the reefs within but also the pristine mangrove ecosystems still present in the area. Mangrove forests are vital as they create perfect habitats for a variety of juvenile marine species.


CCC would like to thank everyone involved for letting us participate all the way through this exciting project. Our staff left the site with a huge sense of accomplishment. They were also kindly offered to try the local Butong and happily obliged!