Field Base Manager
Gareth is coming back to the Philippine project after spending six months on site as part of Coral Cay’s Expedition Management Scheme in 2016. He first came into contact with Coral Cay in Cambodia after he had completed his PADI Instructor course in Thailand. He then became part of a team setting up a new coral regrowth and seahorse monitoring project on the island of Koh Rong Samloem. Previous to that, he spent two years working as a Conservation Project Facilitator on a Green Turtle project in the Perhentian Islands of Malaysia as well as diving around places such as Sumatra, the Philippines and Bali. Looking to consolidate his previous achievements in conservation Gareth found what he was looking for in the CCC Expedition Scheme and has since managed the completion of CCC’s Caribbean project on Montserrat. After a month’s trip around British Columbia he is looking forward to working alongside a great team in the Philippines again.
Richard Bongot ('Bok Bok')
Boat Captain, Carpenter & Handyman
Bok Bok has been with us since 2003; his nickname means 'termite pulp'. Bok Bok mans our boat Banakun and keeps her shipshape; he is also a carpenter extraordinaire. He worked as a painter in Manila for some years before moving back to Thomas Oppus, Southern Leyte with his wife and children, and began working with Coral Cay. With an absolutely winning smile, and a hilarious personality he keeps the local staff chuckling all the time. If you get involved in the basketball games on site, you'll want him on your team, he is dynamite!
Jesse Lou Tinapay
Community Liaison Officer and Scuba Instructor
Jesse is our Community Liaison Office which means he is our gateway into the local communities around Sogod Bay as well as the schools where he runs our Sea Star programme, educating the kids on Coral Reefs, their resident lifeforms and the importance of protecting them. He is also a qualified Dive Instructor completing over 2800 dives with the vast majority on the Napantao House Reef right on the site’s door step. This means he provides an invaluable wealth of knowledge to everyone who dives with us here. If you want to see the elusive Mandarin fish then Jesse is your man as he always manages to spot them! Furthermore, if you like nudibranchs then Jesse will find you a 2mm Hypselodoris and will have the full species name written on his slate in Latin before you have even realised it’s not a piece of algae!
Ricky joined us in May 2010 and has quickly made himself invaluable. He is our official deck hand on the boat, but you’ll often find him helping in the kitchen too, as well as being able to replace doors, windows, and sort out electrical problems. He is a PADI Rescue diver and uses his skills regularly to dive off the boat, with flip flops and no mask, to rescue items that people have dropped over the side! He can also fix most things just by looking at them!
Jose Ydel (Dudong)
Compressor Operator and groundsman
Jose "Dudong" Ydel is our compressor operator and general groundsman. He has been a local snorkel guide in the area of Napantao for many years now, and has a keen interest in conservation of the local marine environment. He is currently a PADI Divemaster. In his spare time he enjoys artisan coconut wood carving, and is responsible for many of the necklasses and wooden hangings seen on base.
Is the chef on site and she works hard to keep us all fed. She is a genius in the kitchen producing treats to keep everyone going till dinner time, as well as a delicious array of dishes every evening. Her spring rolls and mango float are legendary to anyone that has spent time on site. She is always happy to pass on her knowledge if you get a chance to give her a hand in the kitchen. Pedang always has a smile on her face and looks amazing, you would never guess she is grandmother to 10 grandchildren! Good food is a must after a hard day in the water and Nan Pedang never fails to deliver.
Chelsea Waters, BSc Hons
Growing up in Australia, Chelsea was your stereotypical Aussie – she adored the ocean for everything it provided. Whether it was surfing its waves, diving its coral reefs, or enjoying its food on special occasions. After completing a Bachelor in Marine Biology from the University of Queensland, Chelsea travelled to the Caribbean to volunteer on a local project whose aim was to monitor ecosystem changes in the reef due to socio-economic impacts from the associated small island community. It was here that she saw exploitation of the reef for the first time– rubbish lined the beaches, fish were an overfished commodity and now a rarity on the reef, and algae was beginning to dominate the reef due to poor waste management and the lionfish invasion. She soon returned to Australia to continue studying the problems facing coral reefs, and completed her thesis on the Great Barrier Reef studying the individual and synergistic effects of ocean warming and acidification over seasonal light changes on solitary corals within the Great Barrier Reef. Since completing her thesis, she has worked in Australia, Madagascar and Honduras as a coral reef ecology lecturer and dive instructor studying the effects of local and global threats to reefs around the world. She firmly believes that science and community outreach go hand in hand, and is very excited to work for CCC and the Filipino community.
Anik completed an honours BSc in Biology from Laurentian University, Canada. Her first time volunteering was in Costa Rica in 2013, and since graduating she has been gaining experience in field research and project management by working at various conservation projects abroad. Although her experience ranges from tagging sea turtles in Central America to banding birds in the US, Anik is passionate about marine conservation, research and education. She believes that programs like those undertaken by CCC are key influences in delivering environmental awareness, and developing a positive change to our communities. Anik has an intrigue for learning new cultures and languages, meeting and getting to know people from across the world, while exchanging travel stories and working towards a common goal in conservation.
Maisy Fuller, MSc
Maisy completed her Masters in Marine Biology and after a year studying in Australia decided that the cold climate of the UK wasn’t for her! To date she has worked on numerous projects around the world, mainly focused on sea turtle research and conservation, with her most recent job being with a turtle project in Malaysia. She is passionate about all marine life and really enjoys sharing her knowledge with others and learning from them in return. She can’t wait to join the Coral Cay team and share this passion with everyone there.
Jasmine has always felt an affinity with the underwater world and feels most at peace when observing the unusual life reefs have to offer.
Whilst studying a degree in Marine and Natural History Photography, she became increasingly aware of not only the devastating impacts being placed on marine environments today, but how dependant populations are on these environments for their livelihoods.
Unfortunately marine conservation issues are “out of sight, out of mind” for many people, so she wants to promote these issues to the masses and alter people’s perspectives through a combination of scientific research and compelling visual media.
She has worked on marine conservation projects in Spain and Cambodia, monitoring environments that have been affected by overfishing, tourism and pollution, and contributing to the actions that will secure the future of these environments, for the benefit of both the marine life and the coastal communities that depend on them.
Since living in the Philippines, she has managed an underwater production company and an environmental organisation in Palawan, whilst becoming immersed into island life and the Filipino culture.
She now looks forward to contributing to Coral Cay’s work, educating volunteers and community members of the incredible life the underwater world has to offer, and why it so desperately needs our help in its preservation.
James grew up very interested in the ocean and had the Indo-Pacific reef guide as a bed time story from age 4. Learning to dive in the Philippines at age 11, he knew immediately what he wanted to spend his life doing and went professional as soon as he left school. After working and travelling all over Asia, seeing the huge differences small groups of people can make in terms of conservation, he has been desperate to join the cause and help preserve the underwater world for local communities and future generations. James is very passionate about diving and nothing gives him more pleasure than sharing his enthusiasm with others.
Shrimp (aka King Prawn)
Shrimp arrived here in the middle of 2015, and serves as the base guard dog. He takes his job very seriously and has been known to bark at leaves and coconuts that venture too close to the building. What he lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in charisma and is well loved by the staff and volunteers on site.
Coral (aka Corallimorph, Coral the Destroyer, Coral the Vacuum)
Coral arrived on base at the end of last year. She was originally from Tacloban, where she heard about a position for an assistant guard dog. She applied for it by urinating on the Field Base Manager as he was interviewing other potential puppies for the position. The FBM admired her confidence and offered her the job. Her duties include either destroying or eating anything found within her boundary of the base (depending on the nutritional value of the item in question).