Bat research conducted by Coral Cay staff in Papua New Guinea published in Australian Mammalogy journal

Between 2007 and 2009 CCC staff and volunteers in conjunction with the Waria Valley Community Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods project conducted mist net surveys of bats in the Waria Valley, Papua New Guinea.


The surveys considered four broad habitats; agricultural, secondary forest edge, primary forest edge and primary forest, to assess the abundance, diversity and community structure of bat populations in the area. Over 99 nights nearly 600 individuals were caught, representing 11 species including the endemic greater tube-nosed bat (Nyctimene aello) and green tube-nosed bat (Paranyctimene raptor). The results suggest species richness and diversity is highest along the edge of primary forest. This important discovery highlights the critical need to preserve the habitats associated with primary forests in order to protect biological diversity.


Congratulations to Jeff Dawson and the rest of the team for a successful project and for getting the work published.


For more information regarding the project click here or to view the published paper click here.


23rd July 2012

The Tobago Ecosystem Mapping Project - four years of effective conservation science

Coral Cay Conservation has released its final report, summarising scientific results and community work achieved during the Tobago Coastal Ecosystem Mapping Project (TECMP) which ran between April 2007 and June 2011. The full document can be found on our website, here.



Jan-Willem van Bochove, Head of Science for Coral Cay commented: ‘‘In the face of some significant challenges to this project, an outstanding team of scientists, volunteers, scholars and concerned Tobagonian citizens proved time and time again that with commitment, enthusiasm and resourcefulness, great things can be achieved. One of the ambassadors for Tobago’s environment was Peter Trotman, who led the establishment of the Speyside Eco-Marine Park Rangers but sadly passed away last year. This report is dedicated to him.’’


Dr. Owen Day, Co-Director, Head of Communications and Biodiversity of the CARIBSAVE Partnership and previous director of the Buccoo Reef Trust, commented:‘‘This document will help maintain and build the momentum in Tobago and in particular in Speyside for getting Marine Protected Areas established and managed.’’


A comprehensive database, based on over 900 detailed surveys, is now available. It highlights Tobago’s incredible diversity of marine life but also raises serious concerns about the continued degradation of coral reefs that has taken place within the last decade. The two mass coral bleaching events and resulting disease outbreaks of 2005 and 2010 killed off many of the large coral colonies that are so characteristic of Tobago’s dive sites. The effects of these regional impacts have been exacerbated by local, land-based stressors, particularly sedimentation and pollution. These local stressors need to be removed in order to give Tobago’s reefs the best possible chance of surviving in the face of regional impacts like coral bleaching.


Recommendations include the implementation of several well-managed, no-take zones in areas of high biodiversity and resilience to coral bleaching. These marine parks will not only help secure important marine habitats but also allow fish stocks to increase and spill over into adjacent fishing grounds. Communities should be involved in setting up these parks as well as their continued monitoring and management. Income can then be generated from park user fees, creating a sustainable source of income from tourism. Finally, an increased effort needs to be made to reduce land-based pollution and runoff which continues to be a real threat to the islands coral reefs.

Encouragingly, Coral Cay’s scholarship programmes have helped to create local capacity to support the management of marine parks.  For example, the Speyside Eco-Marine Park Rangers (SEMPR) are spearheading the effort to develop a marine park to protect some of Tobago’s best remaining reef systems. Dr. Day continues: ‘‘This is a momentum that was built by the work of Coral Cay and the Buccoo Reef Trust and that is now being driven by the SEMPR. The government of Trinidad & Tobago and several international agencies are looking at supporting the next phase of this work and the formulation and implementation of management plans. The legacy of the work done by Coral Cay and its dedicated staff is alive and well!’’

We would like to thank our project partners and all the staff, volunteers and scholars who made this project such a huge success!

19th July 2012

Coral Cay to receive continued funding to support local Scholarship Programme

Coral Cay is delighted to announce that we will be receiving continued funding to support our successful Scholarship Programme in the Philippines.


This programme aims to leave behind a lasting conservation legacy by developing in-country capacity and equipping local stakeholders with the tools and technical expertise needed to effectively manage local marine protected areas. The programme has also been hugely successful at raising awareness about the fisheries and tourism benefits of effective conservation management to a wide range of national and regional decision makers.


Over the past three years alone, Coral Cay has successfully provided its two and four week training courses to nearly 100 scholars and we hope to train up at least an equal amount over the next two years! If you are a Filipino or Cambodian national, wishing to participate in our programme, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. More information can be found here>>

18th July 2012

An update from Dag Navarrete’s (Coral Cay’s Community Liaison Officer) Rare Pride campaign in Barangay Punta, The Philippines

The Barangay (village) of Punta had to be relocated in 2003 due to a devastating land slide that not only destroyed the village claiming a number of lives, but also the Marine Protected Area (MPA) that was in place. The loss of their MPA further impacted the survivors having removed one of their vital resources for economic capital and subsistence income. Although the village relocated to a new site, the MPA that was put in place had little to no ordinance or management and was therefore not functional as a proper MPA but more of a paper park.


“People had been temporarily relocated after the devastating landslide, but when they returned, they found their coastline severely degraded and their livelihoods as fishermen in jeopardy”.- Dag Navarrete


Knowing this, Dag decided to carry out his Rare conservation fellowship programme in this area with the objective to strengthen the management systems of MPAs in the Philippines, using the “Cohort Theory of Change”. This strategy aims to eliminate threats to MPAs such as overfishing and destructive fishing though community education, and community ownership development and training.


“The Rare Conservation campaign in Punta is important because the social marketing movement is new to the Philippines and our study proves that it is working well with the community and making a real change to the way people perceive their environment”. -Dag Navarrete


So far Dag has been busy promoting the MPA in Barangay Punta through community talks, activities and education. He is now preparing for the final phase of his programme conducting surveys throughout the local community to compare and contrast their changes in perception towards the MPA in comparison to two years previously when his mission began.


An MPA management committee recently visited the Punta sanctuary and increased its management effectiveness rating from 1 to 3 out of 5 stars. It is hoped that with Dag’s continued efforts, the Punta MPA will soon be regarded as a showpiece for effective, community-led management of environmental resources.


Take a look at the 'Conservation in Local Hands, Sustainable Fishing' video on the Rare Conservation Philippines programme page, to see Dag in action. 


Dag also took part in the 'World Oceans Day' celebrations last month, sporting the 'Fredo the clownfish' mascot, an ambassador species that has been chosen to represent the Punta MPA.

11th July 2012

Coral Cay helps out at the Chagos Fun Day in London

On the 7th of July, the Zoological Society of London hosted over 500 of the Chagossian community of Crawley at the Chagos Fun Day at the London Zoo.


Coral Cay was there to promote its conservation work and scholarship programmes as well as providing information on the coral reefs of the Chagos Marine Reserve. This even included a mock Reef Check survey for the kids!


Two discussion sessions let conservation experts and recent visitors to the Chagos archipelago answer questions about its environment, the Marine Protected Area (MPA) and what ZSL and its partners hope for protection of Chagos in the future. Pete Raines (Founder, Chairman of the Coral Cay Trust) and Jan-Willem van Bochove (Head of Science) represented Coral Cay Conservation on the panel.


We'd like to thank Alex Ferguson and Tessa Dawson, both Coral Cay interns, for standing in the rain and helping out on the day!


For more information about the Chagos MPA, visit the Chagos
Conservation Trust


For more information on the Chagossian Community Environment Project, visit the ZSL website.

10th July 2012

Coral Cay present a lecture on the importance of protecting marine life and help with the release of juvenile Hawksbill sea turtles in the Philippines


Coral Cay's education officer, also delivered a lecture on the importance of protecting the marine life of the Philippines.


Coral Cay staff and volunteers visited a Marine Protected Area in Barangay Molopolo, Southern Leyte recently to assist with the release of 22 juvenile Hawksbill sea turtles. Members of the local fishing community and local government unit officials also attended. 


 Take a look at the full article here... 

28th June 2012

Coral Cay helps out with fundraising and community day for newly established Marine Protected Area in the Philippines

This month Coral Cay volunteers joined with local NGO Ocean Action Resources to help support a fundraising and community day for a newly established Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Silago. 



Dagan para sa dagat (Run for the sea) organised by Grace Quiton, head of Ocean Action Resources, used a sponsored 8km fun run to raise funds for the MPA. The community events were kick started with Coral Cay volunteers presenting the famous ‘Fred’s dilemma’ puppet show, to highlight the importance of protecting animals in the sea from human threats such as anchor damage, pollution, over-fishing, and illegal fishing. 


Following this, volunteers took groups of children and adults for an educational snorkel - pointing out corals, different types of fish, sponges and even types of algae all found in their MPA. The day finished off with a film about the impact of illegal fishing and an award ceremony for the fun run and day activities. 


A great way to show the community how important their MPA will be for their future livelihood.

25th June 2012

Coral Cay provides 'Reef Monitoring' training in the Philippines

For three days this month, four representatives from Barangay Punta joined Coral Cay for a Reef Monitoring training event. This local village (Barangay) has recently re-established their Marine Protected Area (MPA) with the help of Coral Cay's Community Liaison Officer, Dag Navarrete through his social media internship with RARE Pride conservation.



The aim of the training, was to encourage local youths to get more involved in protecting their MPA. The students participated in lectures on coral reef ecology, identification of important fish, invertebrates, and corals and how to recognise threats to coral reefs, such as, coral bleaching, disease, fishing damage.


The next step was learning how to conduct a snorkel survey of the coral reef. After a few sessions in snorkel and mask use, the students truly mastered the survey technique and completed three 10m surveys of Napantao house reef, and then another three surveys inside the Punta MPA.


A great end to a very successful training programme, the students have already been asking Coral Cay’s Education Officer, when they can return for another training session!


21st June 2012

A winner from the Coral Cay house reef and Marine Protected Area, Napantao, Philippines!


We are pleased to announce that this photograph 'Clownfish with Dreadlocks' was the winner of this month's 'Focus On - Anemonefish' competition run by the British Society of Underwater Photographers.


Pash Baker visited CCC's Cambodia and Philippines projects last year to compile for us a suite of images of expedition life and the underwater world. One of the images she took in the Philippines was whilst diving on our house reef (a Marine Protected Area).


A huge congratulations to Pash from all of the CCC team!


20th June 2012

Coral Cay provides 'Mini Reef Ranger' training in the Philippines


Over the last month two environmental groups from the Liloan Municipality, 'Igno' and'We Care Nature', expressed there interest to Coral Cay about receiving training in coral reef protection. In response to their request CCC's Education Officer, set up a mini ‘Reef Ranger’ training with the two groups.


The training consisted of learning coral life forms, important reef invertebrates and fish, and how to recognise threats to coral reefs, such as, coral bleaching, disease and fishing damage. Both environmental groups then successfully completed two 10m surveys of their coral reef. In 4-man teams each member recorded different aspects of reef health, such as, fish numbers, numbers of invertebrates, the percentage of broken corals, incidences of rubbish or destructive fishing. The training finished off with a discussion of what they had seen and what recommendations they would make for protection of the reef.


18th June 2012

Coral Cay takes part in 'International Ocean & Biodiversity' celebrations


The Southern Leyte Provincial Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) requested CCC to provide a presentation as part of the International Ocean & Biodiversity celebrations this month. CCC's Education Officer represented CCC and provided a presentation regarding the importance of biodiversity, and how it applies to coral reefs and their protection to an audience of around 40 attendees. 


The day began with a mini coastal clean up along Tangkaan beach, followed by CCC's presentation, after which everyone feasted on Filipino food delicacies, such as Lechon (roasted pork). The day finished with a guided snorkel of Tangkaan Marine Protected Area. 


Many attendees were amazed to learn about the importance of coral's on the diversity of coral reef environments. A great day of learning and celebrating diversity for all!

14th June 2012

Coral Cay to help design Cambodia’s first Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Following a successful 2-year scientific survey programme of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem in the Gulf of Thailand, Coral Cay is delighted to announce that it will continue to work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia, project partners and local stakeholders, to assist in the implementation of Cambodia's first well managed Marine Protected Area around Koh Rong Island in the Gulf of Thailand.


Over the past 2 years, Coral Cay volunteers have done a fantastic job in providing the scientific baseline information which will now pave the way for the implementation of a large-scale, multiple-use MPA around the islands (see our latest report here). The managed area will be around 300km2 and include a wide diversity of habitats including coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds in addition to the upland rainforests found on both islands.


The on-going project is receiving funding from several donors in addition to further support from our project partners, Flora and Fauna International. The next steps are to continue to monitor the marine habitats and work closely with local partners, communities and businesses to ensure that a consensus is reached to support different conservation management zones and encourage the development of low-impact tourism initiatives. As part of this process, a stakeholder workshop was organised on the 18th of March, and attended by Coral Cay’s Head of Science, Jan-Willem van Bochove, in Phnom Penh to launch the three year project. Jan-willem, who presented results from Coral Cay’s scientific efforts, said “CCC is honoured to be able to work with such a conservation-minded government. The MPA set to be implemented later this year will help secure some of Cambodia’s most precious reef systems and hopefully create the momentum for the establishment of further MPAs throughout the region.”


Speaking at the launch, the British Ambassador to Cambodia, Mark Gooding said, “I am delighted that this new project will contribute to Cambodia’s sustainable development and the protection of marine areas in Cambodia. The loss of biodiversity and degradation of the environment around the world represents a threat not only to the ecosystem, but to the livelihoods which depends on it. I therefore welcome The Royal Government of Cambodia’s efforts to boost marine protection, and am pleased that the UK is able to support the creation of Cambodia’s first Marine Protected Area.”


For more information about the Cambodia Coral Reef Conservation Project, have a look here.


11th of June 2012

Provincial Board member Daisy Gamale completes Coral Cay’s scholarship programme in Southern Leyte, Philippines

Over the last four weeks, the Honourable Daisy Gamale, a board member for the Provincial Government of Southern Leyte, has joined other international volunteers at the Coral Cay project site in Napantao to undertake a comprehensive series of dive and science training courses.



With no previous dive experience Daisy, was thrown in at the deep end, completing her PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water certificates in the first week. Following this, Daisy undertook a 2-week Skills Development Programme which introduced Daisy to the formidable realm of coral reef ecology, marine species identification and survey techniques. Indeed, by her own admission, the quantity of species and level of identification accuracy required to pass the course was daunting.


Daisy is now keen to organise a pool of past scholars, to further promote the conservation of marine resources around Southern Leyte. With continued help from the Provincial Government and in conjunction with CCC and partners, she aims to establish a MPA monitoring scheme run by past Southern Leyte scholars.


Furthermore, Daisy wishes to encourage more government personnel to undertake the scholarship programme and discover the amazing reef ecosystem that surrounds Southern Leyte. It is hoped that this will continue to raise awareness of marine conservation and increase support for future projects in the area.


Daisy, a strong supporter and friend of Coral Cay said: 'I have seen and met people before telling me how they care about conserving marine biodiversity, but I have felt the true passion and compassion of not just caring but doing the conservation through the entire staff and volunteers of CCC. Thank you for choosing my country, my province, to be part of your life!’


Coral Cay is proud and honoured to have such an important delegate from the Provincial Government join our scholarship programme. The project has seen over 100 scholars attend similar courses, providing crucial capacity to support the conservation of the Philippines' incredibly biodiverse but threatened marine habitats.

June 8th is World Oceans Day!

31st May 2012


This year's theme is Youth, the Next Wave for Change and to celebrate the biggest celebration of the ocean, Coral Cay is organising several activities to support coral reef awareness for children in the Philippines. These will include marine conservation lectures, film showings and even an Ocean Month Summer Camp! We'll be teaming up with local youth environmental groups to provide our infamous Reef Ranger training to a few lucky Ocean Stewards where we'll provide them with training in reef ecology, species identification and snorkel surveys!



In the UK, Coral Cay will be promoting coral reef conservation at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium at the exclusive Ocean of Stars evening (see below). We are also working closely with the  Zoological Society of London to provide educational and scholarship training activities to Chagossian citizens based in the UK. On the 7th of July, Coral Cay will be promoting reef conservation at the London Zoo through family activities, talks and tours which will focus on the fascinating natural heritage of the Chagos islands and surrounding marine life. The Chagos archipelago was declared a full no-take Marine Protected Area on the 1st of April, 2010, making it the biggest marine reserve in the world. Coral Cay is supporting an environmental outreach programme aimed at Chagossian communities in the UK.


Want to get involved with activities in your area? Check out the World Oceans Day website.

Only two days left to vote for Coral Cay’s marine conservation work in this year’s Responsible Tourism Awards!

23rd May 2012


Please show your support to Coral Cay’s efforts to help communities and protect endangered coral reefs by nominating Coral Cay for this year’s prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award! Through our ‘citizen science’ approach to marine conservation, Coral Cay’s work has been Highly Commended for 3 years in a row! This is a fantastic result and with your nomination, you can help us win this year’s ‘Best in a Marine Environment’ category!


Coral Cay has been at the forefront of community-based coral reef and tropical forest conservation science since 1986. We offer our services to host Governments and NGO’s at no cost, providing them with much-needed technical expertise and manpower which would otherwise be unaffordable. Through this innovative ‘citizen science’ approach, we have increased awareness on the importance and management of coral reefs for the future prosperity of tropical communities in developing countries, reaching out to thousands of local people through scholarships, education awareness training and livelihood development. Our conservation work has helped secure some of the most bio diverse and endangered habitats for the future benefit of the local custodians.


With your support, we can continue to provide the resources to help sustain livelihoods and alleviate poverty through the protection of coral reefs and tropical forests.


Please show your support! You can make your nomination here for the category ‘Best in a Marine Environment’. Nominating us also puts you into a prize draw to win a holiday for two to Kerala!


Thank you!


Our website is

Our e-mail contact is

Coral Cay Conservation invited by SEA LIFE London Aquarium to attend 'An Ocean of Stars!'

1st May 2012


Coral Cay Conservation has been invited by SEA LIFE London Aquarium to attend 'An Ocean of Stars!' an exclusive event to celebrate marine conservation and the stars thereof! 


We would love to see you there, guests will be invited to pick up a free glass of bubbly on arrival and wander through the Atlantic depths surrounded by john dory, gurnards and skate. There will be a dive feeding of the stingrays in the enormous ocean display which contains bonnet head sharks, tropical reef fish and green turtles! Delicious sustainably sourced canapés will be provided as well as a free juice bar.


Come and visit our stand and learn how you can contribute to marine conservation whilst being surrounded by the creatures of the sea! 


Tickets will be available for reservation in advance with a payment of £6 on entry on the evening, to reserve your ticket please email 


All money raised through tickets will go to the Manta Trust.


Time: 7.00pm-10.00pm

Event: 'An Ocean of Stars'

Location: SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Earth Day parades, coastal clean-ups and mangrove planting, an update from volunteer Nadia Vitlin on our Philippines project.

30th April 2012

Earth Day, Liloan Coastal Clean-Up


At around 9am on the 20thApril myself and the other volunteers piled into Dan Dan’s van bound for Liloan’s coastal clean-up as part of the Earth Day 2012 activities. Armed with posters and banners, we joined the children of Liloan in a parade around the streets (accompanied by reggae-pop tunes playing from speakers tied onto tuk-tuks) to promote public awareness of environmental issues.


After the parade, we got started on the actual clean-up. Sacks were filled to the brim within the first fifteen minutes!  The enthusiasm of the local children was infectious and unrelenting, keeping us amused the entire time.  After a few hours it was snack time. Thankfully a local environmental group ‘Igno’ headed by Apyong Beto provided sandwiches and drinks and we chatted to several of the local kids. All in all, a great day.


Barangay Calian Coastal Clean-Up, Mangrove Planting and Marine Movie Night


The student leaders from Barangay Calian organised an environmental day as part of their village fiesta and the coinciding Earth Day celebrations. Back in the van with Dan Dan, and this time Tata (our chef), we all headed to Barangay Calian, 25 minutes from Napantao. 


Unfortunately a particularly high tide in the morning prevented the planned mangrove planting so myself and the other volunteers including our local counterpart Daisy Gamale (SP Member of the Southern Leyte Provincial Government), all participated in a coastalclean-up.


We were led by 19-year-old Tessa (Head of the Calian student leaders), who had organised the event. Afterwards everyone went for a snorkel and played with all the children. Coral Cay Science Officer Alessia showed the kids how to put on a mask and snorkel, whilst Ellie (Science Officer in training) led about six children around the shallows. In the mean time Tata had cooked a feast and we joined the youth of Calian in a scrumptious buffet lunch.


Later that day Community Liaison Officer Dag and Education Officer Heather helped with the Mangrove planting.  Around 50 small seedlings were put in the ground with the help of a large gaggle of children.


In the evening we returned to Calian to attend the marine movie night organised by Education Officer Heather and Student leader Tessa. Heather gave a short debrief of the coastal clean-up and why it is important to make sure the sea is free of rubbish. We played a slide show featuring marine animals found on their reefs, as well as snapshots from the morning’s coastal clean-up, which delighted all the kids, and then began the movie.  At the end of the documentary (on the Great Barrier Reef), we bid our farewells expressed our thanks and returned happily to base.


The Whale Sharks are returning to Sogod Bay, Philippines!

27th April 2012


We are pleased to report that whale sharks are continuing to return on an annual basis to Sogod Bay in the Philippines! We recently received confirmation from ECOCEAN, the whale shark photo-id library, that shark ‘P-376’, spotted in 2010 has been identified as an individual regularly returning to the area.


In 2006 and 2007, we organised a series of whale shark photo-id trips with volunteers and in conjunction with the dive support and survey vessel DSV Discovery. The trips proved to be a huge success with the volunteers getting to swim and ID over 25 sharks on each of the 8 day trips. Photos were taken of the sharks in an attempt to identify those individuals returning to the area and help build a photographic record of the population. The photos were added to the ECOCEAN (Australia) and Shark Trust (UK) databases and have contributed to the on-going assessment of whale sharks worldwide.


It was on a subsequent trip in 2010 that the photos of shark P-376 were taken and when matched with other photos in the ECOCEAN library have proved to be the same individual returning to the area. This is great news for the whale shark conservation effort in the Philippines as well as for the local communities whom rely on Whale Shark watching tours as a source of income. 

Banakun our boat in the Philippines has just had a full makeover and is looking wonderful!

New Reef & Leaf Newsletter!

23rd April 2012


Dear Coral Cay Supporters,


We are excited to introduce the new Reef & Leaf newsletter which will be sent out quarterly, giving you all the latest news and updates from our expedition sites and the UK head office. This edition includes our new incentive scheme, the launch of a schools expedition programme, details of our up and coming projects and a whole host of other interesting articles.

Please click here to download the full newsletter.


We would like to thank you for your continued support and hope to see you out on an expedition soon!

Tessa Dawson gives us an insight on her time as an Operations Intern with Coral Cay

23rd April 2012


 I am currently interning with a very large NGO and can honestly say that there have been a number of occasions when I have thought to myself 'Thank you Coral Cay', because of them I can feel confident when faced with a new project, as a result of having already received the necessary training. Interning with Coral Cay was an educating and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I hope that I have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.


I volunteered as an Operations Intern with Coral Cay for 4 months, at the end of 2011. I had a background in behavioural research so had a lot of experience with field work, but was finding interview questions a little hard to relate to. I would be sitting in an interview trying to answer queries about strengths and the ability to face challenges, when all I had to work with was the fact that I can make a mean curry for 15 people with no running water or electricity, or maybe the difficulties of hiking 6 miles with a 4 stone pack, whilst being attacked by leeches and ticks. I guess you could say I was memorable, but my answers were sorely lacking in concrete evidence of my ability to actually work in an office environment.


I am so pleased that the team at Coral Cay offered me the opportunity to intern with them. From my experiences since, I can't stress the importance of taking the opportunity of interning with a smaller team like the one at Coral Cay. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in enthusiasm! Obviously it helped that the Operations Team were so willing to help me progress, but it also meant that I was able to receive one to one teaching about the programmes and administrative tasks that I would be doing. It was great to feel that I was an integral part of the team and a brilliant opportunity to learn and try my hand at a range of new skills. 

Coral Cay receives continued support for its local capacity building programmes in the Philippines

11th April 2012


We're very pleased to report that the Coral Cay will be receiving continued support for our scholarship programmes in the Philippines.


Over the past three years, Coral Cay has successfully trained 75 full-time scholars in Tobago and the Philippnes to conduct diving surveys of coral reefs. This training is crucial to enable communities to effectively manage coastal resources and assess the impact of marine reserves on local fish stocks.


The CCC Scholarships have proven to be a successful social change tool for marine conservation, enabling community members to take on a variety of environmental roles, including coastal management jobs within the government sector, management of marine sanctuaries and guiding tourist divers. In some cases, scholars have even gone on to set up their own environmental groups and NGOs. In the Philippines for example, Grace Quiton (pictured), a CCC-scholar, went on to set up the Ocean Action Resource Centre, a local NGO dedicated to providing more educational opportunities in environmental conservation to local youths.

World’s Largest Marine Reserve Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

4th April 2012


The world’s largest marine reserve, the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, is celebrating the second anniversary of its declaration as a fully no-take marine protected area.


The Chagos, or British Indian Ocean Territory as it is formally known, is an Overseas Territory of the UK. The reserve was created by the British government on 1st April 2010, and all fishing licenses for the area expired on 31st October 2010, since when no commercial fishing has taken place in the area, which at over 500,000 sq km is twice the size of Great Britain.


Highlights from this year include:


  • Scientific studies revealed that the Chagos archipelago has orders of magnitude more fish biomass in its coastal waters than anywhere else in the Indian Ocean, and higher fish biomass than even its isolated Pacific island counterparts such as the Northern Line Islands.
  • The discovery of a previously unknown mangrove swamp on Moresby Island, along with rare original Pisonia woodlands on a few of the islands. Also large expanses of seagrass beds, an important and threatened marine habitat, on the more remote offshore banks.
  • The Scientific Expedition to Chagos saw a team of twelve UK and International scientists travel to the archipelago to conduct research, with an emphasis on long-term monitoring. Results from the expedition should be available by the end of the year.
  • There has continued to be more participation in conservation projects from members of the Chagossian community: four members of the Crawley community spent two weeks assisting with the Barton Point conservation project on Diego Garcia; and Pascaline Cotte worked as a Dive Assistant on the Scientific Expedition. Additionally, the Chagos Conservation TrustCoral Cay Conservation and the Zoological Society of London have received funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to establish an environmental outreach project working with the Chagossian community in the UK. If successful, this pilot project will extend to communities in Mauritius and the Seychelles.
  • Twelve vessels have been caught and prosecuted for fishing illegally in the reserve over the past year.


For more information about all that has been achieved this year, please visit:

Coral Cay Conservation's Project Scientist Kate Longhurst, writes an article for the Linnean Society of London

23rd March 2012


One of Coral Cay's Project Scientists has written an article about her time working for us out on our marine conservation project in The Philippines, we are pleased to announce that the article has been published by the Linnean Society of London  the world's oldest active biological society.


Please have a read of the article here.

Coral Cay partners with Flora and Fauna International to support the development of Cambodia’s first Marine Protected Area under a prestigious Darwin Grant

GIS map depicting coral diversity along a colour ramp around Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem Islands, Cambodia

21st March 2012


The UK Government's environment department, DEFRA, announced its support to the conservation of Cambodia’s coral reef systems through a generous grant for the design and management of Cambodia’s first Marine Protected Area (MPA).



Coral Cay and Flora and Fauna International (FFI) are working on the invitation of the Fisheries Administration to design and implement the country’s first large-scale, effectively managed MPA that will cover an area of approximately 300 km2 around the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.


Coral Cay has recently completed a full baseline assessment of the islands coral reefs and is now using this information to help develop a zoning scheme for the island that includes no-fishing, recreational and responsible fishing zones. This is a crucial step in securing some of Cambodia’s most diverse reef systems which suffered from a mass coral bleaching event that hit the Gulf of Thailand after some of the warmest temperatures on record in the region in the summer of 2010.


The coral reefs around both islands have With 60-70% of people on the islands dependant on fishing as their main source of income, it is vital to ensure that any conservation action involves (and is supported by) all relevant parties, from local communities to businesses. To achieve this, CCC and FFI is using its strong local relationships to bring stakeholders together so that they play an active role, alongside government agencies, in conserving the marine environment.



Coral Cay has received support from the Darwin Initiative in the past including for the designation of the Belize World Heritage Site in 1996-1998 and the The Waria Valley Community conservationin Papua New Guinea in 2005-2009.


You can read the Darwin Initiative's press release here

You can read more about Flora and Fauna International here

Coral Cay helps remove Crown-of-Thorns Starfish following an outbreak in Padre Burgos

CCC project staff giving a presentation to local divers, fisherfolk and LGU members about COTs removal.

15th March 2012


Coral Cay volunteers were involved in the removal of thousands of Crown of Thorns starfish (COTs,Acanthaster plancii) from coral reefs after a recent outbreak around Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte. COTs are large-sized sea stars that feed on live corals throughout the Indio-Pacific region. These starfish have been shown to sometimes exhibit outbreaks, whereby their population numbers explode, often leading to a significant reduction in coral cover. The phenomenon has been particularly well documented on the Great Barrier Reef Australia where COTs outbreaks have been responsible for the destruction of hundreds of square kilometres of reef.


Although present on all reefs in the region, the corals around Padre Burgos recently witnessed a substantial increase in the numbers of COT’s. In order to help protect this vulnerable ecosystem, communities of Padre Burgos, dive resorts fisherfolk and Coral Cay volunteers teamed up to conduct a large scale removal operation. An impressive 50,000 specimens were successfully removed from the area over several days, demonstrating how the combined efforts of NGOs, the private sector and local communities can effectively work together to help preserve vulnerable coral reefs. 


The local media have focused on this issue, helping to bring home the conservation message Coral Cay continues to deliver throughout the province!

Philippines Project Update

1st March 2012

Barangay Napantao Foundation Day


On Friday 27th January Barangay Napantao celebrated their Foundation day. The festivities consisted of a colourful procession around the Barangay, a basketball tournament during the day, and a dancing and singing competition in the evening, culminating with a lively disco. Coral Cay Expedition Leader, Logan, joined the basketball team but unfortunately the game was cancelled due to heavy rain. Coral Cay Education Officer, Heather and Medical Officer, Amelia joined one of the groups competing in the Filipino folk dance section. 

The costumes consisted of bed sheets tied as a toga, and fans made from large tropical leaves. The two weeks of nightly practices paid off as the group came in second place. Even the local staff got involved, joining an all male group in the modern dance section dressed in singlet tops and short skirts.  The dance was a hilarious rendition of “Nobody, nobody but you…”, it was quite a night.


Coastal Clean Up

San Jose, Sogod Coral Cay volunteers joined 100 students from the Hospitality and Tourism department of Southern Leyte State University to clean up waste from the seashore around Barangay San Jose, central Sogod.


The day’s activities began with a prayer, national anthem, and short presentation by Coral Cay Education Officer, Heather, on the effects of waste on the environment, including suggestions for reducing, recycling, and reusing waste. Fredo the Damselfish mascot, developed by Dag Navarette Coral Cay Community Liaison Officer, even made his first debut demonstrating on how to pick up the rubbish.


The day’s activities began with a prayer, national anthem, and short presentation by Coral Cay Education Officer, Heather, on the effects of waste on the environment, including suggestions for reducing, recycling, and reusing waste. Fredo the Damselfish mascot, developed by Dag Navarette Coral Cay Community Liaison Officer, even made his first debut demonstrating on how to pick up the rubbish.


Solid Waste Management Education Campaign, Liloan


With a population of almost 100 million the problem of solid waste disposal and
management is escalating in the Philippines.  In 2009 an official ecological solid waste management act was developed, but with so many people living in small remote villages it can be difficult to implement and enforce even the best regulations or laws. To combat this problem Liloan Municipality Bureau of Fisheries and Department of
Environment decided to implement an Information Education Campaign.


The plan: to provide a 2-hour seminar on solid waste management to every Barangay within the Municipality. Coral Cay Education Officer Heather, joined the education team visiting 16 different Barangay’s.  Heather presented on the affects of waste, particularly plastic and metals, on the marine environment and food chain. While the others focused on the importance of solid waste management, ideas for recycling, and disseminating official laws and penalties.

Coral Cay report published in the latest edition of Cambodia’s Journal of Natural History

17th January 2012


Coral Cay is delighted to announce that some of our scientific findings from Cambodia have been published in the latest edition of Cambodia’s Journal of Natural History! Click here.. for the paper. The complete journal is also freely available here... 

Napantao Nature Watch – Matthew Thurlow, Science Officer

19th December 2012


Diving the Napantao reef as we do almost every day you would think that it would not harbour any secrets yet week in, week out it manages to surprise us with new and exciting creatures of the deep. The surprises are not even limited to small critters or even under the water. We have  recently been visited fairly regularly by pilotwhales and dolphins whilst relaxing on the sea wall watching the sunset. The Napantao MPA is a well protected and monitored MPA with several dive operators using it as a popular day excursion and the reef never disappoints its visitors.

Our newest arrival, which we hope is the first of many, was the first whale shark sighting of the season here in Napantao seen on the 9th December. We have also concluded that it is home to three or four regular turtles (Joey the large hawksbill and also Howie the small green turtle) are two that we are particularly familiar with. Eels are a good sign of reef health and we have several species inhabiting Napantao, Rupert the ribbon eel is a resident along with snowflake eels, moray eels and marbled snake eels. Some of our larger residents that reside over the reef are Boris the Great Barracuda around 1.5m and several large Titan triggerfish. Very recently we have had sightings of a 4ft black tip reef shark perhaps one of our baby reef sharks grown up.


The south wall is home to a lot of larger more pelagic fish with Narrow Banded King Mackerel and Giant Travelly cruising around amongst black and white snappers. Smaller more elegant visitors include two juvenile Pinnate Batfish who have been sheltering and a couple of clown triggerfish. We have also seen a range of pipefish from Ornate Ghost Pipefish, a family of Robust Ghost Pipefish and a couple of ringed pipefish to join our resident mushroom coral pipefish. Mantas shrimps seem to be in high abundance and a Lobster has appeared which is very rare in Sogod Bay.


(Photos courtesy of Luke Gordon, ex Science Officer)

Teaching at Bangawisan and Bong Bong Elementary School

2nd December 2011


Coral Cay Education Officer, Heather, and Community Liaison Officer, Dag’s had another successful week teaching about the biology, importance of, and threats to, coral reefs in the Philippines at the elementary schools in the San Francisco district.  The children from Bangawisan elementary thoroughly enjoyed the Marine Protected Area (MPA) game with the ‘fisherman’ running around pretending to paddle their boats and the ‘fish’ hastily running in the opposite direction toward the bottle marked MPA.

Heather and Dag’s were surprised at several students who could correctly identify many different fish families and the highlight was hearing the Bong Bong elementary students, who were asked ‘what is a coral?’, reply loudly and in unison ‘it’s an animal!’  A great achievement, as most are under the impression that coral is just a rock, and not a delicate, living, and reef providing animal.

Napantao night at the movies with Coral Cay

1st December 2011


A marine education movie night was organised for the local community of Napantao, by Coral Cay Conservation (CCC) Education Officer, Heather. The aim was to introduce CCC volunteers to the local community, while also having an enjoyable evening learning about the beautiful underwater world of coral reefs.  Heather whipped round the village advertising the event and paid a visit to Napantao elementary school – the draw card being the promise of “daghang popcorn” (a lot of popcorn).


At 7.30pm CCC volunteers and staff arrived and Heather got each member to share their name, country of origin, and something unique about their country.  The volunteers passed around popcorn, to the delight of all the children, and the movie began.  David Attenborough’s classic commentary of the coral seas Blue Planet edition was barely heard over the excited squeals and chatter over the different sea animals from 150+ Napantao children and adults alike.

The evening finished with a large round of applause – a great end to a successful marine education movie night.