11th August 2018

An Impromptu Game of 'Murder in the Dark'!

Located near a pristine marine environment, CCC’s base location is also quite a remote one. This means that everyday commodities such as a hot shower, flushing toilets, and access to 24h electricity aren’t so common. The months of June until August are known here as “Habagat”, a time of year when the winds shift and the weather includes faster gusting winds, rain, and a very wavy sea. With it come more regular brown-outs that typically only last a few minutes, or on occasion, several hours or more.

 

We were caught off-guard when everyone had finished dinner and were getting ready to clean up, when all lights went out. As no mobile phones are allowed at mealtimes, no one had a light! After a few strange noises, creaking doors, howling dogs and a few jumping staff members, what else were we to do but start an impromptu game of murder in the dark?

 

The most fearless staff member stepped-up to be the first seeker, counting to 30 while the rest of us hid under tables and within door frames. Crawling silently only to bump into another warm body at some point, each one of us hoped not to bump into the seeker. Accidentally crackling the plastic covering on the fire extinguisher set off someone’s internal alarm, causing them to hastily walk across the room while holding the very mattress they hid behind. Evidently they wound up crashing into none other than the seeker, now themselves bound to seek the others

 

An interesting evening it was, leaving some of us to face our fears of the dark, although everyone had a good laugh in the obscurity. Once the lights turned on after a few rounds there was only one question that remained; was it scarier being the hider, or the seeker? 

1st August 2018

Whale Shark Spotted in Catig!

Photo courtesy of CCC Project Scientist, Anik Levac

On our first day of surveying in the MPA of Catig, Liloan, participants were more than surprised to find a young Whale Shark inquisitively approaching CCC’s boat. Those who were diving feared not seeing the creature, although he came back during their surface interval to scope out the situation once more! Those who remained on base that day were down, not having been on site for this amazing opportunity.

 

However, on the 1st of August in the following week we were back at Catig to continue surveying the site. Two staff members remained on the boat while the rest were surveying transects. Who would have thought they'd hear the boat captain yell “whale shark”! This time the team had GoPro cameras on board, and were able to capture the larger, nearly 6m individual as it swam gently past the boat. The shark was once again extremely inquisitive, eating the divers’ bubbles from the surface. This wasn’t close enough for it however, and it decided to pay a visit to those surveying at 12m below. Luckily everyone was able to log a sighting this time!  

Photo courtesy of CCC Project Scientist, Anik Levac

Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute (LAMAVE) is a non-profit organization that works in Pintuyan, nearby CCC’s base. They undertake research on marine megafauna, including whale sharks, to identify hotspots, quantify populations and determine key habitat sites. They work to minimise impacts on these animals and develop tools for conservation management. Fortunately, we were able to provide LAMAVE with photos in order to identify the individual seen. By utilising photos from the right or left flanks, individual whale sharks can be distinguished from their unique spotted pattern. This way, future photographed sightings can be logged and an individual’s movements assessed. How interesting!

 

As it is atypical for whale sharks to be in Sogod Bay during this time of year, we are all hoping for more sightings this season!

August 2018

Choosing a Reef Safe Sunscreen!

The ingredients used in some sunscreens to negate the effect of UV and UVA radiation unfortunately have the complete opposite effect on corals, making them more susceptible to the damaging effects of these rays. In addition the application method can exacerbate the issue, with spray sunscreens more likely to 'miss' the skin and enter the ocean. We promote the use of reef friendly sunscreens on our expedition sites but are very aware that there is a lot of confusing information out there. In today's post we are going to try and help you navigate it!
 
First things first, the word 'Natural' is in no way synonymous with safe (either for you or the reef), and "chemical-free" is impossible, as whether naturally derived or synthetically made all ingredients are made up of chemicals. Similarly 'mineral' only means the ingredients are naturally occurring, not that it is necessarily reef safe or effective. Now that we've got that bugbear out the way let's move on :).
 
The Haereticus Environmental Laboratory website is a great first step, offering a list of chemicals to avoid, plus some further details on the alternative names that are sometimes used. The list is updated every 2 years to ensure that changes have not made the chemicals unsafe. Non-nano Zinc Oxide seems to be the most accepted and superior active ingredient for alternative sunscreens, please make sure that this is non-nano to ensure that it cannot be ingested by our ocean dwelling friends
 
You've googled reef safe sunscreens, checked your ingredients list and found one that is safe, suited to your skin, and proven to be effective. Now it's time to accept that reef safe sunscreen will not be as invisible as your usual product, as Zinc Oxide has a whitening effect! We think that this is a small price to pay to save the reefs but if it bothers you there are tinted versions available. Please be aware that Zinc Oxide products marketed as 'clear' are more likely to use nano particles so double check this! 
 
We hope that this has been helpful. Remember the best choice that you can make for your skin and health is covering up!
 
Tip: You may be able to find your product listed on Environmental Working Group's website. A helpful extra check to ensure your product is effective.

21st July 2018

Gudan Community Day

After surveying the reef of Barangay Gudan, which is a control site for this year’s BACI protocol, CCC staff and volunteers returned to host a community day on Saturday July 21st.

 

There was a huge turnout of all ages, including more than 30 enthusiastic children and their family members, some of which had attended a previous CCC community day in Gudan.

 

The focus of the event was to bring awareness to the negative impact of plastic waste on the environment, and what innovative solutions we can adopt to manage this ever growing issue.

 

After a short introduction by Anik (Project Scientist) about the work CCC conducts and why we recently surveyed the reef of Gudan, the attendants jumped straight into an educational quiz, kindly translated into Tagalog by the new scholar on site, Danielle Matriano.

 

Questions were asked such as: how long does it take for a plastic bag to degrade, how many times does all of the accumulated plastic waste in the world encircle the earth, where does the Philippines rank in the list of the biggest contributing countries to plastic waste and which city in the Philippines has banned plastic bags?

It was great to see so many of the children guessing the answers correctly, proving that the younger generation have an increasing awareness of the impacts plastic is imposing upon the environment.

 

Anik and Danielle also brought attention to effects on the marine environment specifically, such as the ingestion of plastic bags by turtles, which is hugely important for a community that lives so inextricably with their reef to understand.

 

Following the quiz, participants were introduced to the Ecobrick – one of many positive solutions to dealing with plastic waste. An Ecobrick is shredded plastic waste items (food wrappers, styrofoam, plastic bags, etc.) tightly packed into plastic bottles, which are then used to make building blocks to use in benches, walls and other structures.

 

As we had previously collected enough trash during Ecowalk events, and staff and volunteers on site had been saving their personal plastic trash, we had a large contribution of trash for this event. After watching an instructional video, the participants were split into 3 teams, led by CCC staff, to make their very own Ecobricks. Both adults and children sat meticulously snipping and packing piles of plastic, which were transformed into beautiful Ecobricks to be proud of.

 

We finished the day with a dance off…as you do. Our questionable renditions of the Macarena and the Cha cha slide provided much amusement to the children, who taught us an amazing, but very complicated, dance to a Tagalog song. All in all the day was a great success. It was a real pleasure to spend the day with one of the communities that CCC’s work aims to improve the livelihoods of through working towards sustainable management of their reef.

Happy Shark Week!

22nd July 2018

 

Happy Shark Week everyone! This annual event is, for some, just an excuse to watch factually accurate films, starring the crème de la crème of the acting world (is that too much sarcasm?), but for us it's an opportunity to spread the word about the vital role that these fish play in every ocean in the world.

 

Take this coming week as your inspiration to learn more about sharks, and why not hold an event to raise some money for some of the fantastic organisations working to protect these fascinating creatures?

 

In today's post we are looking at the beautiful Whale Shark ((Rhincodon typus). We are lucky enough to occasionally be gifted with sightings of these, the largest known extant fish species, in the Philippines, during the season. Check out one of our sightings here!

 

There is still much of the whale shark's life cycle that remains a mystery, no one has ever seen their mating rituals or birthing. In fact it wasn't until 1996 that it was discovered that they are ovoviviparous (live bearing).

 

Whale sharks are sadly considered endangered by the IUCN, due to the impact of bycatch, fisheries and vessel strikes. If you plan to swim with these beautiful sharks make sure that you go with a responsible agency, which runs ethically minded, limited number, whale shark tours, that uphold strict interaction guidelines.

 

25th July 2018

 

We are halfway through Shark Week. Did you know that sadly, each year, it is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed by humans, and this is a conservative figure, some put that figure as high as a mind blowing 273 million
:(!

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in most oceans around the world, and are known as 'keystone' species, because their removal could cause the entire collapse of the ecosystem.

Sharks generally prey on the sick and old, and by removing these individuals from the population, prevent the spread of disease, and increase the health of the gene pool. This natural culling ensures that fish populations stay within sustainable levels. Sharks also act as bodyguards for sea grass meadows! By patrolling these meadows they intimidate other species that would over-graze these very important nursery grounds.

 

Check out this link for a very effective (if hugely horrifying) infographic of the number of sharks killed by people each hour, and share this post to let more people know about the vital role that these fish play in our ocean's ecosystems.

 

27th July 2018

 

In honour of Shark Week we thought we would give you a shark-focused Freak Fact Friday to really sink your teeth into (sorry).

 

Let’s be honest, sharks are amazing – who wouldn’t love ’em?! But there are simply too many facts to choose from, causing internal office squabbling, on which ones to focus on so we have decided to give you a brief roundup of our 5 favourite shark facts;

 

1) Great Whites are spectacular breachers, but what about the Short Fin Mako?! Whilst Great Whites are capable of reaching speeds of up to 40mph and breaching 10 feet in the air (an impressive set of stats), the Short Fin Mako has been recorded at speeds of 46mph and breaching 30 feet (9 metres)! You can see this for yourself here.

 

2) Turtles aren’t the only famous Ocean inhabitants to exhibit natal philopatry, Chondrichthyans do too! Studies from 2013 found that at least 6 female Lemon Sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) returned to the exact same birth place to give birth themselves 14-17 years later!

 

3) The Sand Tiger Shark is a formidable predator. It seems that this predation is a trait learnt young. So young, in fact, that baby sand tiger sharks have been found to literally eat their siblings in the womb. A term called intrauterine cannibalisation. Just be glad you were not born as a sand tiger shark.

 

4) Ever wish you had eyes in the back of your head? Well, whilst they don’t have this weird morphological feature, Hammerhead sharks have a 360’ degree field of vision. So not only can they see behind them, they can see up, down, left and right. But if you do ever want to sneak up on a Hammerhead, they do have a blind spot directly above and below their heads.

 

5) This one is for the golden oldies. The Greenland Shark with a max size of 24ft and living as long as 400 years, is also the slowest shark on record. Travelling, on average, and speeds of 0.8 mph, maxing out at around 1.7 mph (fasten your seatbelt!) – that’s slower than your average turtle. But with all that time to think, scientists think that these incredible sharks use their acute sense of smell and ambush tactics to ‘hunt’ sleeping seals.

 

Well, there you have it. There are hundreds of incredible facts about Sharks, so we hope we’ve whet your appetite. We’d definitely recommend checking out the fascinating Megamouth Shark too! 

21st July 2018

Happy PADI Women's Dive Day!

Happy PADI​ Women's Dive Day all! This is the 4th year that PADI have taken the opportunity to celebrate the role that women play in diving and marine research, and it acts as a fantastic platform to encourage more women to join this wonderful sport.

 

We have been blessed to be able to welcome so many wonderful women to our site over the years, as staff, volunteers, and scholars. In fact one of our ex volunteers, Roisin Maddison Photography​, was recently featured in Scuba Diver magazine's July issue 'Celebrating Women in Diving', why not head on over to www.scubadivermag.com to get your copy and see her beautiful photos?

 

Diving can still be a very male dominated environment, but with more and more dive shops and equipment brands focusing on women there's never been a better time to take the plunge and learn! Why not check out this link and find an event near you?

 

Our team in the Philippines have celebrated PADI Women's Dive Day 2018, with a fun dive on our beautiful Napantao House Reef!

 

Globally, about 2/3 of scuba divers are currently male, but with women outnumbering men on site at the moment we are pleased to be able to buck the trend! Whether male or female, we are proud to send skilled, safe and respectful divers out into the world!

19th July 2018

New Hopes for PET Recycling!

Amazing news coming from Loop Industries, they have discovered 'a unique catalyst that breaks down PET plastic with zero heat and zero pressure', whilst filtering out additives. This is ground breaking as no other technology can remove dye from PET, which means through this method they can 'recycle any size, shape and color of PET plastic waste into virgin-quality PET plastic resin on an industrial scale'!

 

After verifying the findings, evian have made a commitment that by 2025 all of their bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic, and are actively encouraging other plastic reliant companies to follow suit. We'll be following this story eagerly, awaiting other companies to step up and play their part in switching the mind set to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

13th July 2018

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Photo courtesy of Pash Baker. Caribbean Reef Squid.

Today we are looking at the Humboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas). This marine behemoth can reach a huge 6 ft in length, has excellent vision, and an extremely complex nervous system. This species has a reputation for aggression to the point of cannibalism whilst feeding, so it's no surprise that divers don fibreglass and kevlar suits before interacting with them.

 

This article gives more information on this species' incredible beak, although to be honest its the 36 'teeth' in each of its 2,000 suckers, which we find both awesome and give us the heebie jeebies in equal measure:)! These teeth are used as hooks to keep prey from getting away, and you likely would have seen the results of this in the scars that are often seen on whale's bodies. Their beaks are composed of proteins, chitin fibres and water, the last of which increases in composition the closer to the body, this allows the base of the beak to remain flexible whilst ensuring the tip is incredibly hard and sharp, perfect for lacerating prey! 

9th July 2018

Congratulations to the Winner of the Intelligent Pelican Competition!

 

 

We are very excited to announce that the winner of last month's competition held with Intelligent Pelican is Judith Hutcheson. Congratulations Judith, you have won The Full Kit worth £135! With 6 essential items including a Power Bank, Head Torch and Silk Sleeping Bag Liner, that are durable and ethically manufactured, you will be covered on your next intrepid adventure!

3rd July 2018

Celebrating with a Bonfire on the Beach!

After a hard day’s work, it’s nice to be able to hang out with the CCC group and enjoy the beautiful scenery Napantao has to offer. With a public beach next door, the team took the opportunity to celebrate a few recent happenings at base by having a beach bonfire. 

 

Students undertaking the Science Development Programme completed their computer and in-water substrate identification tests, a staff member had their birthday, and the team were also sending off a lovely couple who had been spending their honeymoon giving back to the conservation world with us here on base! 

 

During the day the team collected bits of dry wood for the fire, and in the evening prepared frozen mocktails while bringing marshmallows to roast. Since there is very little light pollution on the beach, they were able to fully appreciate the bright aggregations of stars and comets, and some even had the chance to roast their vey first mallows (ever!). A lovely night spent with lovely people. 

29th June 2018

World Ocean's Day 2018

On Sunday, CCC celebrated the 2018 World Oceans Day in partnership with 4Ocean and the Local Government Unit of Liloan. An afternoon event including presentations, a synchronized coastal clean-up, a prize-draw and photo-competition brought together over 250 people from the surrounding communities. Groups partaking in the activity included the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) of Liloan, senior students of St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, students undertaking the Environmental Sciences course at Liloan’s Technical Vocational Highschool, residents of Liloan city, Barangay Poblacion, Tacloban City and other surrounding communities. 

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Corbett

June of each year brings with it the global celebration of our oceans, and the pledge to keep them healthy. World Ocean's Days' theme this year was selected as “preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean”. In keeping with the theme, the municipality of Liloan joined in on provincial government efforts to name June as Environment Month, and officially launched their rice from garbage programme in addition to partaking in CCC’s World Oceans Day celebration. The programme acts as an incentive for communities to partake in the making of eco-bricks (building blocks made from reused plastic wastes) to trade in for a given amount of rice.  

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Corbett

After a short introduction to the making of Eco-bricks and their uses, in addition to a presentation about CCC and plastic pollution, the World Oceans Day synchronized coastal clean-up took place. Participants spread out across the coastline of Liloan to collect trash along beaches, piers and waterways. Barangay officials returned to their respective Barangays to undertake coastal clean-ups in their communities as well. Unfortunately trash collected in these Barangays could not be accounted for, though we were minimally able to collect the equivalent of 4 panda bears weight in trash from our coastline. Our collective efforts removed an approximate 1421.5lbs (or 646kg) of trash from Liloan!

Photo courtesy of our winner @elyshanotelesha

To thank our participants for their efforts, 4Oceans t-shirts and bracelets were up for grabs in a prize-draw. Everyone was also offered the chance to participate in a photo competition to win additional prizes. Participants were asked to “take a selfie” and upload photos on Instagram or Facebook while tagging both Coral Cay Conservation and 4Ocean to be entered into the competition. Winners were selected based not only on the posts’ ability to educate and promote World Oceans Day, but on creativity as well. The first prize winner (@elyshanotelesha on Instagram) won a Discover Scuba Diving package for two with CCC in Napantao! There were also two second-prize winners (@jul_yous on Instagram and Kristine Aura Cabahug Daga on Facebook) who will receive snorkelling equipment set from Aquaventures, as sponsored by 4Ocean.     

The CCC team is excited in welcoming 2 participants to discover scuba diving with us, and was awed by the progress we made by collecting so much trash from the community! Thank you to all of those who participated. Efforts such as these are a great reminder to the effect each and every one of us can have in our communities for a cleaner Ocean.

CCC team ready to take on the coastal clean-up! 

25th June 2018

Tom - My Week with Deptherapy

My time spent with Deptherapy was not only an opportunity to introduce members of the Deptherapy team (Ben, Andy, Jon, Dan, Steve, Chris & Jason) to coral reef ecology and conservation, but also an amazing experience for myself. The first day was intense, as we delved into coral reef community assemblages, global conservation efforts and fish identification, it sparked an interest. An interest in something the majority had not thought about during their previous dives or something that many considered out of reach. This interest continued to grow over the week. 

 

Witnessing the 7-man strong team in the water first hand was an incredible experience, especially considering that the team consisted of two double amputees, one single amputee (nicknamed Nemo), those suffering from serious back injuries and mental health issues. 

© Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

Following a physically, and mentally, tiring first two days getting to grips with fish identification and sizing skills, we progressed into substrates, specifically hard corals and the consequences of their degradation. Having already introduced the use of slates - an additional tool that required further thought for Ben, Andy and Chris, and demanded peak buoyancy from the others - we introduced Quadrats and Transect tapes. 

 

Considering the minimal soak time to practice laying transect and placing quadrats, the performance of each member of the group was truly phenomenal. Chris (Nemo), laid the transect with his one arm whilst maintaining a near perfect trim and buoyancy, leaving myself and Guy Henderson, the marine biologist at Roots Red Sea, astounded. Team work between buddies was critical and Chris was joined by his buddy, Dan, to facilitate tying off the transect and securing it. Jon & Andy teamed up to place quadrats, allowing Andy to use one arm to hold the quadrat, and the other to maintain his buoyancy. Jason & Steve worked effortlessly maintaining excellent communication. It was truly an honour to sit back and watch these men progress in such a short time, and to display skills that take those in the field hours underwater to master. 

© Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

An accumulation of all the skills developed over the course were put into practice for the final dive where we headed out to a reef wall on the northern side of the reef. And once again, the transect laying, quadrat placement, and photography of the substrates, were seamless. 

 

This course is in preparation for when the Deptherapy team head out to Truk Lagoon in August. Ben, Andy, Chris, Dan, Steve, Jon and Jason should all be extremely proud of their achievements this week and I have no doubt, whatsoever, that they will triumph in Truk; collecting coral reef community data to support a detailed scientific report for the conservation of the area. 

© Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

Deptherapy’s Protecting Our Oceans has 7 passionate, and knowledgeable, ambassadors. In times where the future of our coral reefs look bleak, the ability to inspire others to become involved in their respective protection is critical. With an increased affinity to the marine world and a new perspective on the complexity of coral reefs, those heading to Truk are in good hands. I am truly grateful for the week spent with the Deptherapy team and wish them all the best for Truk Lagoon. 

25th June 2018

Coral Cay Conservation Join Forces with Deptherapy!

Check out a video compilation of what the team got up to here

22nd June 2018

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody! Today, as you may have guessed from the video just posted, we are focusing on the Mottled Sea Hare (Aplysia fasciata).

 

Many Sea Hare species have a rather awesome defence mechanism, they can release a sticky purple ink which works in different ways dependant on the species, and what they have been eating. Sometimes it will act simply as a distraction, other times it is noxious to consume, and occasionally the sticky substance will literally plug up the senses of the predator removing it’s sense of smell!

This video was captured in the rock pools of Morocco, these beautiful specimens can be found in the Eastern and Western Atlantic, and very occasionally off the Southern British Isles. Although they look very similar to nudibranchs they are actually sea slugs, and get their name ‘Sea Hare’ from the rolled rhinophores that look like ears. As can be seen in the video this species has a central ‘mantle’ surrounded by a skirt (parapodia) which can be used for swimming. This specimen was about 10 cm in length but they can reach up to 40 cm!

21st June 2018

Press Release - Team Deptherapy gives back in latest Red Sea success!

Five new PADI Open Water Divers, three new PADI Advanced Open Water and Deep Divers, seven new Coral Conservation Divers and four new Deptherapy Education Professionals… that’s the tally of success from Team Deptherapy’s latest Red Sea expedition.

 

At the end of May 2018, UK scuba diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy held it’s largest ever expedition to the Egyptian Red Sea. A team of 25, including 17 wounded in service veterans, all suffering from life changing physical and / or mental injuries, travelled to Roots Dive Camp in El Quseir as part of Team Deptherapy.

 

The expedition also marked the beginning of Deptherapy’s ‘Protecting Our Oceans’ project – an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the fragility of the world’s oceans, ensuring that each Deptherapy Programme Member ‘gives back’ to the marine environment that has so helped in their rehabilitation.

Deptherapy Programme Members, Andy Searle and Jon Beever, take part in the coral reef surveying and conservation course. © Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

During the expedition, all Programme Members took part in a ‘Dive Against Debris’ underwater and beach clean up, successfully removing over 1 kilometre of entangled fishing line.

 

Seven of the Programme Members also undertook a coral reef surveying and conservation course, led by Tom Dallison, Head of Science at Coral Cay Conservation. The aim of the five-day course was to develop skills in underwater environmental survey techniques and species identification, in order to prepare the divers for an expedition to Truk Lagoon this August.

 

Tom Dallison said:

“Deptherapy’s Protecting Our Oceans project now has seven passionate and knowledgeable ambassadors. In times where the future of our coral reefs and Oceans can look bleak, the efforts taken by environmental stewards, and the wider public, to actively protect these systems are critical. With an increased affinity to the marine world and a new perspective on the complexity and beauty of coral reefs, those heading to Truk are in good hands. I am truly grateful for the week spent with the Deptherapy team. I wish them all the best for the future and have no doubt that they will triumph in Truk Lagoon.”

Deptherapy Programme Members, Andy Searle and Ben Lee, on the Dive Against Debris. © Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

Team Deptherapy was led by Deptherapy Ambassador and newly appointed Trustee, former Royal Engineer Ben Lee. Double-amputee Ben is currently training to be a Divemaster and recently won the Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund ‘Recognising Achievement’ Award.

 

The charity is now focusing on the build up to the Truk Lagoon expedition, which will take place from 3rd to 17th August 2018. This major expedition is funded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2016 Libor Fund.

 

Ben Lee is already working with other expedition members to formulate the plan for mapping the wreck of the former Naval Tanker, the Shinkoku Maru, in what will be a key environmental exercise and the next stage in the Protecting Our Oceans project.

 

With applications for places on the Deptherapy Programme at an unprecedented high, the charity also intends to undertake a further expedition to the Red Sea in October 2018.

Team Deptherapy launch the Protecting Our Oceans project at Roots Red Sea May 2018. ©Dmitry Knyazev for Deptherapy

Do you know… it costs £1500 to fund a wounded in service veteran on a PADI Open Water course on the Deptherapy Programme. Deptherapy’s life changing work can only continue if they raise enough funds. The charity receives at least two applications every week from British Armed Forces veterans who would benefit from their Programme. Please help Deptherapy continue to make a difference to their lives. Pledge your support and find out more about Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk.

19th June 2018

Volunteer, Jack, Becomes the Master!

CCC participants listen intently to the Wrasse Biology and Identification presentation

During volunteers’ first two to three weeks with CCC, they embark on a thorough diving and scientific training program, sometimes followed by a week’s reef surveying around Sogod Bay. Certain volunteers join the program for a longer stay, meaning their acquired knowledge and skills can be put to further use. Trained volunteers may expand their knowledge into advanced hard coral or butterflyfish species identification, assist with teaching new arrivals in species identification, complete additional surveys, undertake trash and invasive species removal dives on the Napantao house reef, among other exciting activities.

 

Jack practising his survey skills.

This month one of our volunteers was in his second month with CCC, meaning his presence on base had exceptional potential for assisting the remainder of the team. Not only did Jack master his knowledge of both advanced hard corals and butterflyfish identification, he excelled at dive surveying and became what we now call the “wrasse master”. During his free time Jack researched the common local species of wrasse found on the house reef. With the assistance of our local staff he was able to study these species during fun dives and snorkelling. He was also able to guide our project scientist in identification underwater, while obtaining photos of various wrasse species and various colour morphs. During his final week, Jack presented a “Wrasse Biology and Species Identification” presentation to CCC staff and volunteers. The team learned various interesting facts about the fish family, in addition to noting key identification features. The presentation was a great success, and will be added to CCC’s advanced species identification collection for future volunteers!

19th June 2018

The Gudan Surveys Get Underway!

Following the Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) protocol established for this year’s research, the CCC team set out at the end of June to commence the biophysical assessment of the previously proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) site in Barangay Gudan. A social perception survey had already been undertaken in May, allowing the team to gain insight into activities and impacts going on in the Barangay’s coastal waters. 

On June 19th the first transect was accomplished, and by June 22nd the team anticipate completing the necessary 4 transects to carry out a comparison with data previously acquired in 2015. By assessing reefs in sites that have not been established as MPAs, where historical data is available, we are able to compare the effects and/or successes of waters designated as MPAs over time. As part of the BACI study, Gudan’s coastal waters served as a control site as it does not hold MPA designation at this time. We hope to complete 3 control (non-MPA) and 3 impact (MPA designation for a minimum 2 years) by the end of 2018, in order to adequately study the effect of marine protected areas established in and around Sogod Bay. 

16th June 2018

Rescue Diving Course

Scuba Instructor, James Patterson, showing the diver at surface sign for “I’m OK”. Filipino Scholar, Blaire, showing the same signal as used underwater

As part of their typical training, CCC volunteers undertake PADI Scuba Diving courses to the Advanced Open water level. This is to ensure that all divers further training in the Science Development Program and undertaking biophysical surveys have the skill required to be safe divers, while acquiring accurate data for our research programme. However, some volunteers in addition to CCC staff join our project with previously attained diving qualifications. As we have our own PADI Scuba Instructor (SI) on site, CCC offers further dive training for those interested.

 

Anik (PS) and Erwann (volunteer) practising their ECP skills after “rescuing” James (SI) from the water.

This month our Scba InstructorI, James Patterson, carried-out his first on-site Rescue Diver training course with our Project Scientist (PS), Anik Levac, and volunteer, Erwann. Training included theory, knowledge reviews and a written test, in addition to in-water skills and scenarios to test the students’ rescuing abilities. The team tested their strength, endurance and also trust and patience throughout the 3-day course with everyone getting out of the water safely, with a newly acquired diving certification. Congratulations Anik and Erwann!  

9th June 2018

World Ocean's Day 2018 with 4Ocean!

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Corbett, CCC Science Officer
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Corbett.

 

During the month of June, Habagat arrives yearly bringing with it changing winds and diving conditions. This week was our first peek at Habagat weather, and the team travelled offsite to undertake two SDP training days at the Anilao dive site. Regardless of the impromptu change in schedule, we took advantage of having beach cleaning equipment including gloves, hessian sacks and weighing scales provided by 4Ocean

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Corbett

 

 

During the surface interval participants got busy cleaning up the hefty amount of trash found on the diving beach. Some of the volunteers even had the enthusiasm to bring sacs underwater for an Eco-fun dive. In total we collected six full bags of trash (one full sac per person!) amounting to 33.47lbs!

 

On our very first dive day at Anilao, participants suggested bringing playing cards or games to keep busy during surface intervals. As the cleaning event was successful and there is still much to be done, we will be undertaking regular beach cleans during our free time at Anilao to make a greater impact and keep our diving beach clean!  

9th June 2018

We Made a Fort!

It's not all learning and surveys! 

 

After a week full of determination towards SDP training and diving, the Philippines team went back to their childhood roots and made the MEGAFORT. Everyone pitched in their linens to build the kingdom that was, and creative ingenuity was revealed by many. We listened to disco music, played chameleon and other new games from Field Base Manager, Gareth’s, strange collection.

 

When you get a group of like-minded volunteers and staff together there's ample opportunity for high jinks!

29th May 2018

Boat Dive Survey Training

For most of the month of May, CCC’s boat the “Nudihunter” was beached for repairs. Due to maintenance time being delayed the team unfortunately had to delay surveying Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) sites as well. However, enthusiasm was not curbed and the team undertook various additional training dives, advanced species identification presentations and pointies, and additional activities in preparation for boat surveys to commence. 

Volunteer - Jack, Project Scientist (PS) - Anik Levac, and CCC's new Science Officer (SO) - Jasmine Corbett, looking excited to board the boat for the first time!
The outgoing PS Chelsea Waters, demonstrating how to undertake the giant leap entry into the water.

One of these activities consisted of a mock “boat dive survey” which was undertaken on the Napantao house reef. Having two new science staff members and a recently SDP trained volunteer, the outgoing Project Scientist led the activity to ensure the team was ready to survey before her departure. All typical preparatory activities took place including gear preparation, swimming to and boarding the boat, mock communications with the marshal, and practicing the “giant leap” entry. 

Participants were able to practice all survey methodology skills while on the practice dive. Here is our volunteer, Jack, reeling in the transect at the end of the dive.

A full transect was surveyed, allowing divers to practice all survey methodologies, species identification and recording, while exercising leading skills throughout the dive. Once on land buddies tallied their results in order to complete the data sheets accordingly.

 

Soon the team will be heading out to undertake survey sat Gudan, fully practiced and ready to go!  

26th May 2018

Cagbungalon Community Day

Last Saturday  saw the return of CCC to Cagbungalon to conduct a community day, following last month’s survey efforts of the Barangay’s reef as a control site for this year’s Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) protocol. 

Nearly 30 members of all ages from the community attended the morning event with great enthusiasm. One participant was already familiar with CCC as she had joined our recent Reef Rangers event in Napantao. Since we had been to Cagbungalon in previous years introducing MPA’s and the importance of the community’s support for their success, a different approach was undertaken for this community day. The topic of the day was the effect of plastic waste in the environment, and how this can be managed.

 

After a short introduction by Anik (PS) on CCC and our participants, Jesse (CLO) and Blaire (Scholar) led the presentation in Visayan. Jesse began by explaining why plastics have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment, and the process of photodegradation. This means that no natural process can degrade plastics, causing them to break into smaller and smaller pieces leading to the formation of microplastics. These can make their way into any water source, which then become harmful to both humans and the environment. Microplastics can be ingested by a variety of animals, eventually making their way back into our diet (i.e. eating a fish that has ingested microplastics), causing a variety of health problems. In order to obtain a more personal understanding and the scale of the issue, Blaire undertook a series of trivia questions with the group with a theme aimed at plastic pollution in the Philippines and worldwide.

By undertaking community days such as these, CCC’s efforts are working to deliver awareness of the globalized issue of plastic waste, while offering solutions to take action on a local scale. Today’s solution, the Ecobrick. Following instructions as provided on GoBrik.com, the group was introduced to this innovative concept. By utilizing specific plastic waste items (food wrappers, styrofoam, plastic bags, etc.) to shred and tightly pack into plastic bottles, it is possible to make building blocks to be used for creating various structures. As we had previously collected enough trash during Ecowalk events, we had a spillover of trash to use during this community day. The group was split into 3 teams, led by CCC staff, to make their very own Ecobricks! The groups were very enthused in the activity while reusing wasted plastics, and very proud to have made their own recycled bricks.

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