Coral Cay Conservation Expeditions Marine Tropical Jungle Montserrat Philippines
Coral Cay Conservation Expeditions Marine Tropical Jungle Montserrat Philippines
 

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Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

17th May 2019

 

Today we are looking at the rather sweet looking Dumbo Octopus (Genus: Grimpoteuthis). As can be seen in the video captured by Nautilus Live these deep sea dwelling octopuses have two fins resembling Disney's Dumbo's ears. These octopus get about by slowly flapping these fins and use their arms to steer. The researchers in this video joke about the octopus 'inking', but in fact Grimpoteuthis do not have ink sacs and rely on their colour change abilities (explored further here to ward off predators.

 

What's really cool about this genus is that the females can produce eggs throughout the year, and can store eggs at various states of maturation. When they meet a suitable male he will pass a sperm packet to the female using a special protuberance on one of their arms, and she can then choose to fertilise her eggs when the environment best suits. A very helpful adaptation when one lives a solitary existence in the deepest darkest ocean!

Santa Paz Norte Community Day!

This week the Philippines team went to Santa Paz Norte to give a presentation to the community about their local coral reef. Santa Paz Norte is one of the most popular diving spots in southern Leyte. The team decided to have a bit of fun and take the boat to get to community day. They had a beautiful 30-minute boat ride and took the paddle boat to the beach where they were greeted by local kids. Preparations for Fiesta were beginning so the town had been decorated for the upcoming parade. 

The team set up on the local basketball court under the shade, and the kids came running over to sit at the table and figure out what our team was doing there. Our project scientist Charlie gave a lovely presentation to the kids on what they can find in their reef and the harms of plastics. After that, the kids pushed the chairs aside and did some EcoBricking. 

Once the community day was done, they headed back to the boat as there was work to be done! They completed a full transect of data from outside Santa Paz Norte’s potential MPA boundaries with the help of our local staff Divemaster, Dodong, and volunteer, Katie (pictured). Everyone was pretty tired after that and had a wee nap in the sun as they were boated back to base. 

Disposing of Compostable Cutlery

Trying to buy ethically and responsibly can be a real minefield! That's why we are going to be highlighting common 'good intention traps', over the next few weeks -products that we buy thinking that we're doing good when actually there's a lot more to it!

 

First up is compostable cutlery. This has become popular in the past couple of years but although labeled 'compostable' it's very important to note that these will not breakdown in household compost, it simply does not reach the temperatures required. Also compostable is not the same as recyclable! If you recycle these items the sorters at recycling plants are not going to take the time to transfer them to a compost facility, they will simply end up in landfill where they will not break down.

 

This means that if you are going to use, and therefore dispose of, this sort of cutlery there's a couple of things you need to check. Firstly, that your local waste collection offers a composting service and secondly, that they are able to accept this cutlery. The compost produced by cutlery is generally of a low quality so not all facilities will accept it.

 

The best choice that you can make is to avoid disposable cutlery! Buy a set of reusable cutlery, or better yet many, one set for the car, one for the bag and one for the office and hopefully you won't forget it! Check out this article where you'll find more information on compostable cutlery and some great recommendations on alternatives.

 

If you have any suggestions for this series get in touch and we'll investigate.

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

10th May 2019

 

Today we are looking at the Tripodfish (Genus: Bathypterois, Family: Ipnopidae). It's not too hard to see where this fish got its name from, as it sports long fins which it is able to use as stilts! This may sound a little strange but in fact, it makes absolute sense, by raising themselves off the ocean floor they are able to perch themselves in the middle of the current where they can be at rest whilst waiting for prey to come to them, lazy but effective!

 

As can be seen in NautilusLives footage below the very rigid fins instantly become flexible when swimming, through the use of a sort of internal water pump. Tripodfish, like a solitary life but have a simpler time of it when it comes to spreading their genes as they are both Hermaphroditic and can self-fertilise. This means that they are born with both male and female sexual organs so when they meet a mate either one can produce sperm and the other eggs, or if mates are scarce they can bypass mating all together and simply fertilise their own eggs.

 

The fish in the footage is relatively small (or just far away)) but in fact. their tripod fins can grow up to a metre, three times their body length! Check out the footage below of this cool creature.

How to dispose of bio-plastics.

6th May 2019

 

Last week we shared a story, indicating the issues with (apparently) 'biodegradable' plastics. This lead to questions about how we are actually supposed to dispose of bio-based plastics. This is a really helpful article which explains the limitations of recycling and composting, and what labels you can look for to help you make an informed decision.

4th May 2019

Congratulations Jerry and Amy!

We know that many lifelong friendships have been built on CCC sites but it's a much rarer event that people find their sole mate. Today we have the pleasure of o-fish-ally wishing our past Science Officer and Scuba Instructor, Jerry Slater and Amy Hornett, all the best for their married life together. We know that you have found a great catch in each other and we wish you a joyful wedding today, we're shore you'll have a ball! Love from us all at HO!

 

Why not check out their joint venture Sea Fans, and learn more about marine conservation and how you can help!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

3rd May 2019

 

Today we are looking at some small but seriously mighty amphipods, called Hirondellea gigas.

 

These deep-sea crustaceans live at depths of more than 10,000 metres. At that sort of depth, your garden variety amphipod would be crushed due to a combination of high pressure, low temperature and skeleton dissolving acidity, but these tiny creatures manage to survive through the deployment of a layer of armour.

 

The researchers discovered how this is done by exposing the chemicals in its gut to metal-rich ocean sediment, as would likely happen when the crustacean is eating. It was found that the chemicals were able to extract metals from the sediment and transform this into the gel state of aluminum hydroxide in alkaline seawater, forming a protective layer. What they lack in size they make up for in adaptability!

 

You can learn more here, and read the full study in this month's PLOS ONE.

The issue with 'Biodegradable' plastic bags.

1st May 2019

 

There has been a massive push against the use of plastic in recent months which has been amazing to see, but this article from yesterday highlights the need to temper this eagerness with further research.

 

The article focuses on the fact that bags labeled as 'biodegradable' were still able to hold shopping after 3 years of being buried in soil or submerged in water. The bags were also tested for disintegration rates in the open air which proved to be quicker. However, the bags still did not fully disintegrate after the 3 year period.

 

There will be people that purchased these thinking that they were making the best choice for the planet as we can only make the best decision possible based on the information that we have at the time. We, therefore, need to be ready to react and update our approach in light of new information. When looking for a reusable bag make sure to look at the materials and the process of manufacture for any hidden nasties.

 

We are going to be highlighting similar issues, from compostable cutlery to rayon production, over the next few months. If you have come across anything which you feel is a common 'good intention trap', let us know in the comments below and we'll investigate!

April 2019

The team completes their SDP!

CCC volunteers: Manu, Ed, Katie and Leonie undertake a bit of classroom review of fish before the validation dive. Photo courtesy of Stuart Ross.

Over the past two weeks, our volunteers have been working very hard to complete their Skills Development Programme (SDP) training and are all now certified to survey coral reefs!

 

The first part of the programme starts in the classroom where our Science Officer, Stu, teaches the volunteers about the different corals, invertebrates and fish and how to accurately identify them. 

Leonie, Abby and Stu doing their 4m ear and gear check before starting their practice survey. Photo courtesy of Scuba Instructor, Scoob.

Practice definitely makes perfect so from here the volunteers undergo a series of different tests to make sure that they have got the theory down! These range from computer tests to underwater pointies and validations which gives a hands-on experience and let’s be honest having one of the most beautiful reefs on your doorstep, it is definitely the best place to learn!

Leonie reels out the survey line, Abby hanging out upside down to get the perfect tuck. Photo courtesy of Scoob.

 

 

 

Now it is just a matter of mastering the survey method and technique at different depths to make sure they are ready to go out and lead surveys of their own!

26th April 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! Today we are looking at Catfish (Order - Siluriformes) and their incredible sense of taste. We taste using chemoreceptors in the form of taste buds and have approximately 10,000 taste buds in our mouths. Catfish, on the other hand, have a massive 100,000 spread all over their bodies and this number can grow with the catfish up to about 175,000.

 

Most catfish are negatively buoyant which means they spend much of their time at the bottom of the river/sea bed. Their flat head is perfect for digging in the substrate, a practice that makes their preferred muddy habitats even murkier. This low visibility means they can't rely on sight to find prey but can triangulate to their location by how strong the taste is on their tastebuds. Their tastebuds are mostly concentrated around their barbels (whiskers) which means that once they are facing in the right direction they can then hone in on the exact location of their next meal. How clever!

13th April 2019

Reef Rangers Day!

Everyone getting a photo taken on the sea wall before their hectic day. L to R - Ed, Manu, Charlie, Leonie, Katie, Abby, Pete, Angus

This month we restarted our community project Reef Rangers! It has been nearly 2 years year since our last time conducting the programme as we were waiting for paperwork to be formalised, so we are very happy to be able to start it back up again.

 

First, our Project Scientist, Charlie, and Science Officer, Stuart, went to Cagbungalon to meet with the community’s children. We were greeted by the town's Captain and 20 eager, but very well behaved, children. Charlie gave a quick introduction to the underwater world, then told the kids about the Reef Rangers programme and what they could expect if they came to the CCC base on Saturday. It was pretty easy to get the kids super excited, especially once snorkeling was mentioned!

Manu helping cut some plastic for EcoBricks.

The kids arrived on the Saturday, all loaded in the back of a pick-up truck. The second the truck stopped the kids all jumped out and scattered in different directions from excitement. It took a good five minutes before we could corral them to give a safety briefing. We gave them a walk around the base then sat them down in the science room to teach them about coral reefs and what they could potentially find. 

They ran like lightning! By far everyone’s favourite activity.

The morning switched between lectures and activities. They would get a lecture on some creatures they could see, corals, inverts, or fish, then they would get to play a game to help them practice spotting the creatures. For corals, we had a race where there were two teams and one person from either team had to race to the other end and find the coral that Stuart or Charlie asked for and run it back to them. For inverts the kids broke up into four groups and played the memory matching game where there are pairs of different invert pictures upside down and you have to match up the pairs. For the fish activity, the kids had to run around the base and be the first to find certain fish painted on the wall in a scavenger hunt style. 

After all the lectures and activities there was a little bit of time for a quick EcoBricking session before all you can eat spaghetti! After lunch Field Base Manager, Pete, gave a quick briefing on snorkeling and the dangerous creatures to look out for. Then it was time to snorkel!!

Some of the kids with their volunteers.

Everyone got into pairs and were led by their own volunteer. The masks and snorkels took some getting used to, but soon they were off like torpedoes! They all got very excited whenever they saw “Nemo” and surprisingly to some of us they fell in love with the corals! They would yell out some of the coral lifeforms that they learned about earlier that day, they were very surprised at how colourful the hard corals could be.

A successful Reef Ranger shakes everyone’s hands. Abby, CCC scholar, helps Charlie with pronunciation.

After the snorkel there was a quick debrief about what everyone saw, Nemos really were the clear favourite. To end off the day we held a ceremony where the kids received certificates and were officially named Reef Rangers. Their truck arrived and they all piled on and left as quickly as they arrived. 

The Team Hard at Work Ecobricking!

In March we have been Ecobricking on base most afternoons. Ecobricks are a way of recycling plastics to make building materials. They are just large empty plastic drinking bottles (usually 1.75-litre Cola bottles), that are packed tight with clean shredded plastics. When you have enough, you can use them to build walls when interlaced with cement.

 

It’s fairly relaxing and slow paced with a bottle taking 4 to 5 hours to fully pack. Here at CCC, we aim to fill a bottle a week. We usually have hour-long Ecobricking sessions with everyone on base. We use this time as a chance to watch nature documentaries like Planet Earth and Blue Planet. 

Once a month CCC goes to a local community and teaches the children about Ecobricks. After a short presentation, we give the kids a chance to Ecobrick for themselves. It quickly turns into a race between two teams to see who can cut up the plastic and stuff an Ecobrick the fastest. They always do it in half the time it takes us.

 

Right now, CCC has a plan to build a bathroom at Napantao’s storm relief shelter. The Building will be made in July and will require about 800 Ecobricks to build. We should hopefully have enough by then with the help of all the local communities and our volunteers! 

10th April 2019

The Importance of First Aid Training!

One never knows when a First Aid training session will go from merely abstract to life-changing. Recently, one of our Adventure Lifesigns team members, Ian Forbes, delivered a Heartstart Course to an elderly group which proved crucial when the very next day one of the trainees was involved in a situation whereby an elderly man collapsed and was not breathing. 

 

Having practised how to respond she was able to act, considering Danger; Response; Airway; Breathing (DRAB); as she called 999 on her mobile and put it on loud speaker. The call handler stayed on the phone and talked her through the main points.

 

Remembering what she had learned on the course, she checked his responsiveness and tilted his head back to help keep his airway open. She then called her husband to help whilst staying calm, talking to and reassuring the man. She and her husband then took turns carrying out CPR. CPR is strenuous work, but they managed to continue this for the 10 minutes it took for the paramedics to arrive and take over care. 

 

The paramedics commented that the women and her husband had done really well, carrying out all the training as they should, and that it was a shame everyone doesn’t complete this training.

 

Our trainee later commented that “Ian showing us how to do this gave me the confidence to be able to assess the situation, to stay calm, and most importantly be able to step forward to help in an emergency situation that I normally wouldn’t have been able to do”.

Why not act now and book on to a First Aid course with us and remember -

 

Primary Survey - DRAB. The primary survey is a fast and systematic way to find and treat any life-threatening conditions in a prioritised order, don't forget to shout for HELP as and when you require it! 

 

D - Danger 

Ensure that the casualty, any bystanders and you are safe

 

R - Response 

Quickly check to see if the casualty is conscious. Gently shake or tap the casualty’s shoulders and ask loudly "are you alright?" 

 

A - Airway 

Identify and treat any life-threatening airway conditions (such as choking or suffocation).

If the casualty is unconscious, tilt the head back and lift the chin to open the airway.

When the airway is clear/open, continue to the next step. 

 

B - Breathing 

Identify and treat any life-threatening breathing problems (such as Asthma).

If the casualty is unconscious and not breathing normally, call 999 and perform CPR till the emergency services arrive.

5th April 2019

Training is in full force on site!

Photo courtesy of Science Officer, Stuart Ross.

These past two weeks have been busy for some of the new volunteers! Leonie and Katie came to CCC having never dived a day in their lives! They were put straight in the water the day after they arrived, nervous but excited. Our Scuba Instructor, Scoob, spent the next week with them taking them through their first time breathing underwater all the way to breathing from an alternate air source. 

Photo courtesy of Science Officer, Stuart Ross.

 

 

After that they were joined by new volunteer, Emmanuel, and Filipino scholar, Abby, for ECP training. Pete (our field base manager) spent the day in the classroom with them, going through dressing an open wound, dealing with broken bones, and performing CPR. 

Photo courtesy of Science Officer, Stuart Ross.

The next day Abby, Katie and Leonie got in the water to start their Advanced Open Water. They were busy learning how to use a compass for underwater navigation, but they had enough time to stop and give the camera a nice double “okay”. They will finish their AOW by the end of the week with an exciting deep dive, then it’s on to the Skills Development Programme!

29th March 2019

Limasawa Children's water sports day! 

This Saturday was a very special day! CCC was invited to Limasawa to partake in the islands fun day of water sports. The event was hosted by the regional government in an attempt to get the local kids interested in water sports. The children from four different barangays came together to swim, dance, and compete in beach games.

 

CCC was there to talk about the importance of marine conservation. We set up our tent and table with some Eco bricks and conservation posters for presenting to the kids. 

The kids of different barangays would rotate beach games and then whenever any were feeling a bit hot and worn out from the sun would come over to our tent for a bit of more relaxed fun. There would be groups of 20 coming over at a time, so we would alternate between showing them how to Eco brick to recycle their used plastics. After that our Project Scientist, Charlie, would give a talk on some of the marine life you could find in the oceans and why it is important to protect them.

 

Once the event was over everyone had some afternoon lunch on the boat before a well-deserved snorkel to cool down.

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday all! Today we are looking at the rather odd looking Dragonfish (family - Stomiidae). These deep-sea ray-finned fish have some really cool features that allow them to catch prey and avoid becoming dinner themselves. For instance, some Dragonfish have a unique jaw joint which allows them to open their mouths 120 degrees and engulf their prey whole!

 

Dragonfish, similarly to Hatchetfish, are able to use bioluminescence to their advantage. Light producing 'photophores' on their underside mimic the light descending from the surface of the ocean, rendering them effectively invisible to predators swimming below.

 

The Dragonfish is pretty special because unlike many other species it can produce and detect red light, in addition to the more usual blue/green light. In fact, it can emit light with such long wavelengths that it is invisible to the human eye. As this light is not perceivable by other species it can sneak up on prey undetected! We don't know about you but if this beauty snuck up on us we'd be running for the hills! You can learn more here.

23rd March 2019

Anislagon Community day!

CCC Volunteer, Ed, strikes a pose with the kids.

This week we had our community day at Anislagon. The day began with a walk over to the barangay hall along a beautiful ocean side path with palm trees on either side. Once we reached the hall we were greeted by a group of local kids ready to learn about the underwater world.

 

Our project Scientist Charlie gave a talk to the community children on marine life, Anislagon’s reef, and the hazards of plastic. At the end there was a fun quiz on plastics where candies were handed out!

By then the kids were ready to start EcoBricking. We set up two tables and split into two teams. The teams raced to finish their Eco Brick first, it was a close race and both teams finished in under 30 minutes!

 

Once the competition was over, we all sang Justin Biebers “Baby” while sitting on the wall. We all packed up and started the walk back to the van. The kids decided to tag along for the whole journey, singing songs and chasing each other around. We were a parade of eco brickers walking through the Barangay!

22nd March 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! Today we are looking at the Antarctic Sunstar (Labidiaster annulatus), one of the amazing species seen during research dives in Antarctica's 'Iceberg Alley', by the team from BBC's Blue Planet.

 

The team dived in a submarine to 1000 metres depth and were blown away by the huge array of marine life found. The Antarctic Sunstar, nicknamed the 'Death Star' by the crew was a favorite and it's easy to see why. These mammoth Seastars can reach diameters of 2 ft and can have up to 50 rays (arms)! They will typically perch on an outcrop with their arms held aloft over a water column, from which they can then 'fish'. Each arm is coated in pedicellariae, triangle 'claws', that can grab passing prey which is then manipulated into its mouth with the help of its other arms.

There are some amazing macro shots of the pedicellariae via this link so do check them out and you can see some of the submarine footage here.

18th March 2019

Looking back at the Millennium!

We are pleased to be able to share a message sent by one of our CCC alumni, Jo, calling on volunteers and staff who might be interested in a 20-year CCC reunion. She even managed to dig up one of our newsletters from April 2000, what a blast from the past! Take it away Jo!

 

"Calling on volunteers and staff who might be interested in a 20-year reunion for Coral Cay marine and land expedition members in the Philippines, Cagdanao and Negros, and Honduras from the years 1999 to 2000.

 

I volunteered on Cagdanao Island, off Palawan, Philippines, from October 1999 to January 2000, and am thinking of organising a reunion, depending on how many people show interest.

 

The venue will probably be London and will be determined by numbers. A potential date is Saturday 12th October 2019."

 

If you are interested in attending, please email jo@jomoulds.co.uk directly and don't forget to share this message across social media to spread the word far and wide!

15th March 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Today we are looking at octopuses (Octopoda) and their awesome ability to squeeze through the tiniest of gaps and also taste what they touch!

 

Octopuses come in all shapes and sizes but share a common theme of bearing eight limbs. Often they are described as having two 'legs' and six 'arms' because their rear limbs are generally used for walking on the sea floor, with their frontal limbs used for foraging.

 

The majority of an octopus's body is made of soft tissue which allows even the largest of species (the Giant Pacific Octopus can reach spans of over a metre!) to squeeze through gaps of as little as 1 inch! Their limbs, which are incredibly flexible, consist of longitudinal, transverse and circular muscles around a central axial nerve. Each limb is covered with adhesive suction 'cups' which contain an outer muscle, called an infundibulum, and a central muscle called an acetabulum. When a sucker attaches to a surface the space between the two muscles is sealed and the muscles can then be contracted and relaxed to allow for attachment and detachment. Each suction cup contains chemoreceptors so the octopus can taste what it touches! You can find out more here.

 

There are lots of videos online showing octopuses' Houdini skills, why not check them out?

9th March 2019

Angus kicks off Saturday science lectures!

Photo courtesy of Project Scientist, Charlie Heney

Here at Coral Cay, we have started the tradition of Saturday evening lectures. A chance for volunteers or staff to make and show a fun presentation on any science they know about or are interested in sharing. Our first Saturday lecture was presented by long term volunteer Angus McReynolds. His lecture topic was about Ocean Chemistry.

 

Before Angus join us here at Coral Cay he completed his bachelor’s in chemistry at Union college. This was the perfect chance for him to combine his love for chemistry and the coral reefs here into a nice informative talk. The talk focused on what water actually is, its bonding properties, the pH of water and ocean acidification. Angus did an excellent job of breaking down these complicated systems and explaining them in an entertaining way. One fun fact he gave was that pH is done on a logarithmic scale, so the recent decrease in ocean water from a pH of 8.2 to 8.1 is actually a 30% rise in acidity.  It was a laid back, fun and inclusive talk with everyone asking questions and trying to remember their high school chemistry class.

 

It was so well received that lectures will now become a weekly tradition to finish off the week. Our Field Base Manager has his work cut out for him next Saturday when he will give a talk on microplastics. 

8th March 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Today we are focusing on lobsters (Nephropidae Family) and their seriously strong underbelly!

 

Looking at the underside of a lobster one would think that the coloured sections of its exoskeleton are the strongest encasing a vulnerable centre panel, but in fact, it has been found that this flexible membrane is incredibly tough.

 

The membrane is slightly stretchy in order to allow the lobster to maneuver its tail and is a natural hydrogel, composed mostly of water and fibrous Chitin. The team of researchers found that the lobster membrane is the strongest of all natural hydrogels, including collagen, animal skins, and natural rubber, this makes it about as strong as industrial grade rubber used to make car tyres!

This discovery is of great interest to mechanical engineers as it could form a new design guide for flexible body armour on areas such as the elbow or knees.

 

Check out more details on the paper published in Journal Acta Materialia here. It's so cool to see how much nature has to teach us!

6th March 2019

First footage captured of an Anglerfish breeding pair!

Happy hump day everyone! Today we are sharing some really cool footage of Anglerfish. These marine creatures are a common feature in deep-sea documentaries due to their fantastic use of a mobile bioluminescent esca/illicium to attract prey. In a previous post, we discovered how the much smaller Anglerfish male will literally attach itself to the female in a symbiotic breeding system.

 

Here you can see the first footage captured of a mated pair, she dwarfs him!

24th February 2019

An Adventure to Taglinao falls

Photo courtesy of CCC volunteer, Roslyn King

This Sunday we decided to go for a little adventure to Taglinao falls.


The day didn’t start quite as we planned, we ended up going to a site that would require 6 hours of hiking to waterfalls. Seen as most of us were only wearing flip flops we decided against it and went to Taglinao instead for a more leisurely 1 hour hike, it was a Sunday after all.


To get there our guide led us through coconut groves, across streams and up a steep muddy hill before descending into a private paradise. With only a few little slips here and there along the way we finally arrived at the beautiful waterfall.

Photo courtesy of CCC FBM, Peter Jones

Everyone jumped in straight away to cool off after our hike. We were soon joined by some locals who showed off their climbing skills and nerves of steel by jumping off the top of the waterfall. After splashing about, climbing under the falls and jumping into the pool, we all enjoyed some snacks in a little lagoon.


On the walk back we were treated to some fresh coconuts that our guide harvested from a tree nearby. Leaving base to try something new is always exciting, but enjoying it with your friends and laughing all the way makes it all the better.

1st March 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Today we are looking at the rather odd looking Red-Lipped/Galapagos Batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini). This bottom-dwelling fish has no need for primping as its lips are always a bright, almost fluorescent, red. It's not really known why, but it may play a role in attracting a mate.

 

That's not the only strange thing about this member of the anglerfish order, as although they can swim they are actually much better at using their pectoral fins as pseudo-legs, and as can be seen in the image below will use them to walk around the sea floor. Just like other anglerfish the batfish uses a lure in the form of an extended section of the dorsal fin, called an illicium, which they can use to attract their next meal, yum! You can read more about the Red-Lipped Batfish here.

 

Perhaps the most well-known illicium is the one deployed by the deepsea anglerfish (they're awesome but also the stuff of nightmares!) we've covered them in this series before here.

27th February 2019

The sweetest lawnmowers ever!

Photo courtesy of Tristan Brown

During our Head of Operations, Tristan's, recent Philippines visit it was noted that the grass around the base was started to get rather long. Our usual go to are water buffalo but with none available, Tristan, Pete (Field Base Manager), and Dandan (our go to habal habel driver, and CCC friend) headed off to Napantao village to see what other grazers were available. One of our community members was happy to lend us his nanny goat complete with her kid for the task.

 

The volunteers had already had a pretty good day after experiencing their first Whaleshark sighting, but some of them were almost as excited by the very sweet kid who spent the rest of the day frolicking about the site. That beats a boring strimmer any day!

23rd February 2019

A Community Day at Manglit!

CCC Volunteer, Sally Richards plays games with the children. Photo courtesy of CCC SI, Matthew Bigland.

It was Community Day this past Saturday and it was all hands on deck! This time our team went to Manglit to share the results of our most recent MPA assessment. We received a warm welcome and while Manon (Project Scientist -PS) and Charlie (incoming PS) set up the powerpoint presentation there was a bit of time to play volleyball and basketball with the local kids.

 

The kids were all ears during Manon’s presentation about the MPA survey. They were especially lively during the quiz which focused on marine plastic, but that could also be because the winner got candy! The presentation moved from talking about further recommendations for the MPA to solutions and then to one of the greatest problems that plague the Philippines, plastic. The Philippines is currently the 3rd largest ocean plastic polluters, and the reefs are paying the price. Manon talked about the benefits of EcoBricking.

Stuart (SO) helping make EcoBricks with the children. Photo courtesy of CCC SO, Jordan Williams.

EcoBricking is the opportunity to repurpose used plastic and turn them into building materials. CCC, with the help of local communities, has been collecting plastic bottles and then packing them full of used plastic to make them into solid building bricks.

 

The kids showed off their EcoBricking skills after the talk. It quickly turned into an intense competition to see which group could stuff a coke bottle the fastest. They swarmed the bottles and filled three to the brim in 30 minutes when it usually takes on average about one day to fill a bottle.


When it was time to go we were waved off by all the kids! 

22nd February 2019

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! Today we are looking at the Gulper Eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides), or Pelican Eel as it is sometimes called, due to its' loosely hinged jaws that are able to open wide enough to engulf prey much larger than itself.

 

The eel's stomach can also stretch to fit large meals, but in fact, their diet is usually small crustaceans and their small teeth are better adapted to this sort of prey. Food can be scarce in their deep-sea habitat however so having the ability to eat large prey increases their prey options and they can also use their large mouth like a net when swimming through groups of crustacea.

 

Check out this video by the Exploration Vessel Nautilus Live in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument which captures the moment the eel deflates.

12th February 2019

whaleshark spotted in Manglit!

Whilst surveying in Manglit’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) our team had a special visitor on site. A 5m long whaleshark appeared and was happily feeding and circling the area. CCC team were not aware of the shark until they were about to leave and pass a group of boats whose occupants were all clearly very excited. Upon closer inspection, our local dive master Dodong, quickly confirmed everyone’s suspicion… WHALESHARK!

 

Our project scientist Manon Broadribb gave a quick briefing on safety in the water around the animal and then one by one everyone climbed down the ladder into the water.

 

This was the first time all of our present volunteers had ever seen a whaleshark, they couldn’t believe the size of the animal as we watched it come up to the surface countless times to feed. After 15 amazing minutes in the water, we climbed back on the boat while the whaleshark slowly disappeared into the depths.

 

The MPA in Manglit had already proven to be a very enjoyable site to dive and survey, but this was by far the highlight and will prove to be a favourite memory for our volunteers. What a lucky group we are!

15th February 2019

Happy freaky fact Friday – Sea cucumbers!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! Today we are looking at the Sea Cucumber, an echinoderm previously thought to be largely sedentary (apart from the Headless Chicken Monster as previously featured, which you can see here. However, new research has found that these creatures can actually travel miles by absorbing large quantities of water, becoming buoyant and letting themselves be carried at the will of the currents. This is an incredibly useful skill as it means that individuals can move away from negative impacts, such as a drop in salinity levels or an increase in sedimentation.

 

This discovery is very important for conservation efforts as it means that these species will not necessarily remain within Marine Protected Area boundaries as previously thought. Sea cucumbers play a vitally important role in coral reef ecosystems as the natural digestive processes in their "gut increase the pH levels of the water on the reef where they defecate, countering the negative effects of ocean acidification." You can read more about this here.

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