27th January 2018

The First Sighting of a Sun Fish on CCC 's Napantao House Reef!  

How's this for a welcome! Tom, our Head of Science, has been gifted with a sighting of a Sunfish (Mola mola) right on our very own house reef! Our Community Liaison Officer, Jesse, who has been with us since the beginning has seen everything on our reef from Whalesharks and Manta Rays, to the smallest of Nudibranchs, but has NEVER seen a Sunfish in 15-years!
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Mola mola are thought to be the heaviest bony fish in our Oceans with adults typically weighing between 247 and 1,000kg! What an incredible experience!

26th January 2018

CCC's Head of Science Heads Out to Site!

Our Head of Science, Tom Dallison, has recently headed over to the Philippines site to catch up with our lovely staff and volunteers, and see the beautiful house reef for himself. He now understands why we say that it rather spoils new divers!

 

 

 

 

Here he is with a number of the dream team- 
Left to Right: Maisy Fuller - Science Officer, Rafael Manrique - Scuba Instructor, Tom - Head of Science, Chelsea Waters - Project Scientist, Kenneth See - Scholar.

1st January 2018

Welcoming in the International Year of the Reef!

This year we welcome in the Third International Year of the Reef (IYOR), announced by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) an informal partnership between nations and organisations, which promotes the preservation of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. This year heralds the ten year anniversary of the second IYOR, a movement which proved to be a fantastic vehicle for highlighting the issues faced by coral reefs, and promoted a huge amount of research and discussion. The goals identified in the meeting were:

  • "Strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  • Promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs;
  • Identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices; and
  • Share information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management."

Although ICRI does not have any formal powers to create legislation, we at CCC are very hopeful that this year will be a turning point for global awareness of the importance of coral reefs, and can't wait to build on the success of Blue Planet II, and the huge amount of media attention that plastic pollution, in particular, has gained through social media over the last few months. 

20 December 2017

Oarfish Washes up in Southern Leyte

 

 

 

We would much rather share a live photo of an Oarfish (Regalecidae) with you, but as they are so rarely seen (and well below the depth we dive to) we couldn't miss the opportunity to talk about this incredible species after this one washed up on shore today in Southern Leyte.

 

Oarfish make their home in the mesopelagic zone (200 - 1000m below the ocean surface), and therefore most of what we know has been gleaned from those washed ashore. The one in the photo below measured 4.3 meters and 20 kilos, but they have been reported to grow to over 15 metres and 272 kilos!

 

 

 

What's quite strange about this species is that they are known as the harbingers of earthquakes, as they often seem to be spotted stranded in shallow waters before a seismic event. In fact in Japan they are called "Messengers from the Sea God’s Palace".

18 December 2017

The Wonderful Blue Planet II Comes to an End

"Everyone of us may think we live a long way from the Ocean, but we don't. What we actually do here has direct effect on the Oceans. What the Oceans do then reflects directly back on us. It is one world and for the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands." David Attenborough.

 

This wonderful series has had over 78 million views, it has placed the Oceans, their inhabitants and the need for active efforts against impacts into homes across the UK, and the World - raising awareness, inspiring future conservationists, and prompting change.

15 December 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! I think we probably all learnt about mud skippers as children, those cool fish that make their living on the land, but did you know that they have a very clever way of eating? Most fish use suction feeding to hunt thereby negating the need for a tongue to swallow, but, did you know that mud skippers have developed a way to use this same method on land? They are said to use a water or "hydrodynamic" tongue, where they envelop the prey in their mouth, spit water onto it and then suck it back up again, thereby allowing it to swallow (you can see it at point 0:53 in this video). Word to the wise - don't try this at your next dinner party!

 

The above is just one instance of the freaky behaviours and properties of mud skippers, check out this link for more info.

11 December 2017

The Heart Breaking Impact of Climate Change

It seems sometimes that it takes a horrifying image of the impacts of climate change to spur people into action - a turtle with a straw up its nose, a seahorse clinging to a cotton bud, two examples that spring to mind just from the last few months. Climate change is a very abstract concept for many, but the sad fact is that human actions have brought about scenarios like the one shown below, and we can all do more to stop it.

 

From the small easy options like avoiding single use plastics, to the bigger actions that will have an impact on your finances, such as switching to an energy company specialising in renewable sources. We all have a part to play in the fight against climate change.

8 December 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday! Today we are focusing on Triggerfish (Balistidae). This species is found throughout the world and is Hawaii's state fish, catchily called the Humuhumunukunukuāpua'a!

 

What makes this fish particularly notable (other than the fact that it's beautiful) is that they can be the bane of snorkelers and scuba diver's lives! Forget sharks (which we all know are pretty chilled when approached correctly) this species are incredibly territorial and unfortunately 'the look but don't touch' policy won't really work, as they will chase and occasionally bite anything/one that gets too close.

 

As always forearmed is forewarned so the best option is not to swim into their territory in the first place, but if you do, swim away horizontally, not up, their territory is usually in a cone shape with the tip at the bottom.

7 December 2017

CCC Attend the Youth Forum on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

On the 7th of December, Maisy Fuller (Science Officer), Chelsea Waters (Project Scientist) and Jesse Tinapay (Community Liaison Officer) took part in the Youth Forum on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction at the Municipal covered court in San Francisco. Approximately 200 children attended between the ages of 12-16 from three local high schools.

 

The day was started with a welcome and opening statements, and some zumba to wake everyone up :), there was an overview presentation by Sir Bandoy on climate change. This introduced the basic concepts of climate change to the children and ensured they understood the problems arising from increased greenhouse gas emissions, such as the increase in natural disasters. This highlighted the importance in tackling climate change so that storms do not become even more frequent in the future.

Maisy, presents on the effect of climate change on coral reefs.

Maisy then gave a presentation on the effect of climate change on coral reefs. This presentation gave a brief overview of coral reef ecosystems and then went on to describe the different effect that climate change was having on them e.g. coral bleaching, dissolution due to ocean acidification and breakage from increased storm severity. Discussions were then held on how the children could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help coral reefs, by making small changes in their everyday behaviour. Examples given included, turning off the lights when they left the room, walking instead of riding bikes and not littering.

 

Our presentation was followed by everyone doing the ‘baby shark’ dance. Sir Bandoy asked Maisy and Chelsea to stand on the stage and lead it, which the children thought was very funny. Jesse made sure to video everything so that it can never be forgotten (*unfortunately for us at HO the onsite staff aren’t willing to share it, darn!). 

One of the school groups share their commitments to reducing climate change.

Following this, Mr. Honorio Magoncia JR. gave a presentation on global warming and the dengue outbreak. This described how global warming was increasing the outbreaks of dengue and discussed how the risk of catching dengue could be reduced. You can read more about this here.

 

To complete the event an open forum was held, where the children could ask questions to any of the presenters. Some interesting questions were asked which really showed that the children had been paying great attention to the presentations. The children then separated into their respective school groups and undertook ‘commitment signing’ where, as a group, they wrote down all the things that their school would undertake to try and reduce their contribution to climate change. These ideas were then presented to the other schools so that everyone could share their ideas.

 

This event was a real success with the children learning many new things about climate change and the effect it is having on the environment. All of the children were very enthusiastic and seemed very committed to make changes in their everyday behaviour both at school and home, to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Sir Bandoy who organised the event was very grateful for CCC’s contribution and thanked CCC for being involved in the event. CCC look forward to working closely with the school groups involved, helping them to follow through with their commitments.

1 December 2017

Announcing the Winner of our Free Four Week Expedition!

We would like to congratulate Daniella Bayliss, who won a free four week stay with us after signing up for our newsletter at Birmingham DIVE 2017.

 

We'll share a little more about Daniella in our next newsletter but here's a snippet on her thoughts on winning the prize-

 

"My diving has truly led me to want to do more for our oceans, having seen the impacts of plastic waste and coral bleaching, therefore my last two summers have been spent doing turtle and shark conservation. I really hope that I’ll be able to build on my past experiences with CCC, learning new survey techniques and diving in a new place. I can’t wait to really make the most from this amazing opportunity you’ve given me! I really hope that one day I’ll be able to influence policy changes to help improve the health of our oceans."

 

We can't wait to welcome Daniella on site in August 2018, share with her the beautiful sights of our house reef (shown below) and hopefully bring her a step closer towards her fantastic goals!

Christmas Comes to CCC HO!

 

 

 

 

It's 1st December so we are finally allowed to get our Christmas cheer on! Cue decorations, Christmas music and the absolute necessity that is Christmas jumpers! Even the anemone fish in the light box in the stairwell is getting into the spirit!

1 December 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody! In honour of the first day we are allowed to Christmas-up the office, today's fact is all about reindeer.

 

Did you know that in the Winter Reindeer are able to change the colour of the tapetum lucidum (that's the cat's eye, or the mirrored bit behind the retina for the rest of us) from gold to blue? This allows their eyes to capture more light, thereby improving their sight during the dark winter months. How cool is that? Forget glowing noses at this time of year it's all about the eyes!

21 November 2017

Sourcing sustainable Fish

Today is World Fisheries Day. An important day in the conservation calendar and a day to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices.

 

With over 80% of the world's fish stocks overfished or fully exploited, overfishing is a global problem that effects us all, whetehr you eat seafood or not. By making responsible choices as a consumer, your decisions can go a long way in contributing to a sustainable future.

Therefore, we thought we should set you on your way to thinking more responsibly about where your seafood comes from. So below, we've gathered some great websites that you can use to make the right decisions when purchasing your seafood:

 

17 November 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! The Atlantic Hagfish (Myxine glutinosa) is this week's focus, due to its rather ingenious defence mechanism.

 

When a Hagfish is threatened or caught by a predator it produces an incredible amount of expanding slime, apparently enough to fill a 5 litre bucket! As can be imagined this makes it rather hard to hold on to, and can clog up a fish's gills! Once safe the individual ties itself in a knot, which then passes down the length of its body to strip off the slime. Now there's a way to get rid of unwanted attention!

 

It sounds pretty nasty but in fact Hagfish do a great job as scavengers, cleaning up the floors of our oceans. Check out more freaky facts on this species here.

11 November 2017

"Beat the Microbead!"

The above is a phrase that you will be seeing more and more of and that we encourage you to use more throughout your daily life. Microbeads are the tiny particles of plastic that are commonly found in care products such as face and skin exfoliators. But have you ever thought about the after-use journey of those particles? If you haven't, then you should!

 

They may be small, but they are causing HUGE problems for our environment and our health. Microbeads are washed down drains and surpass sewage and water filtration systems, ending up in our rivers, lakes, and ultimately, the ocean - by the BILLIONS every day. These plastics contain toxins but also absorb other toxins present in the water, they are eaten by plankton, larvae, small fishes and invertebrates - organisms that form the basis of highly complex marine and aquatic foodwebs - slowly working their way up the food chain and into the food we eat, toxins and all.

 

The US has already banned the sale of exfoliating care products that contain plastic particles with other countires following suit. The UK has recently drafted a law that will ban the use of "...microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products." by the end of 2017. But with other countries still to take this step, and products still openly available, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

That is why we love the initiative from www.beatthemicrobead.org. An innovative website that provides product lists and a grading system that YOU, as the consumer, can use when purchasing products to ensure you don't add to the microbead crisis. There is even a downloadable app, developed by Stichting De Noordzee and Plastic Soup Foundation with a barcode scanner that will instantly tell you if the product contains mircobeads!

 

A definite must for all of our phones here at Coral Cay!

10 November 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

© Pash Baker

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody! Today we are looking at the weird and wonderful skeleton of the Boxfish.

 

Unlike most animals Boxfish do not have a central vertebrae, instead they have a box shaped bone structure, from which the eyes, mouth and fins protrude. This tank like body offers fantastic protection from predators, but with the drawback of ensuring that it's not the most swift of fishes. Not surprising when one only has tiny fins to propel oneself, instead of the usual flexible and powerful caudal fin.

 

For more information check out this link.

8 November 2017

"Feeling to be a Part of Something Important!"

One of our recent volunteers on our Philippines site left us some great feedback that we would love to share with you -

 

"An unforgettable and rewarding experience where I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and enjoy diving in some of the most beautiful places, while feeling to be a part of something important."

 

This is a great tribute to the amazing volunteers, scholars and staff that make our work in country possible. Some of our volunteers go on into careers in marine biology, some become dive instructors, and others use the experience simply to become more knowledgeable divers. It's a privilege to play a part in creating environmentally aware conservation advocates! You guys rock!

7 November 2017

Jesse Attends an Ecobrick Workshop!

On the 7th of November, CCC Community Liaison Officer, Jesse Lou L. Tinapay, attended the Ecobricks Starter Workshop at Sogod, Southern Leyte. The activity was started by a prayer by Mr. Gaspar Echevarre, followed by a welcome address by the Sogod Mayor Hon. Imelda u. Tan and opening remarks by the Green Circle Director Dr. Benjie Pagadion Jr. The first plenary was about Plastic and Waste Pollution and its impact on communities, this was presented by the guest speaker from SEED4Com, Mr. Dann Dies. After the discussion we did the Ecobricks workshops. The purpose of the workshop was to prevent plastics being buried, burned or dumped in landfill or oceans. Making ecobricks has no cost and no machine needed just hardwork, patience and heart! A single 1.5 Litre Soft Drinks Bottle can fit more than 200 pieces of straws, plastic bags and sachets. Every ecobrick has an ideal weight that was calculated by the bottles volume multiplied by 0.35 (Example 1500ml multiplied by 0.35= 525 grams). All of the partipants were grouped to make a 500ml ecobricks that will weigh 175 grams.
After lunch Dr. Jonathan Moses C. Jadloc, from the Philippine College of Physician (PCP), presented about Clean Energy as Sustainable Energy Backbone. The workshop's last activity involved a Solar Lamp Assembly.

 

Author: Jesse Lou L Tinapay.

3 November 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everyone! Today, in honour of World #JellyfishDay, we are looking at Turritopsis dohrnii, or the Immortal Jellyfish.

 

This amazing species once fully matured, if exposed to stress or damage, can revert to its immature polyp stage through a process called transdifferentiation.

 

This process can, theoretically, continue endlessly, thereby making the species immortal. However in practise it is thought that with every new polyp, they become more fragile to environmental stressors, and therefore at increased risk of predation.

 

If you could be immortal but only if it meant starting all over again, would you do it? Comment below!

 

Please note this photo is not the jellyfish in question, but it's the only one we have!

27 October 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody! With Halloween only days away we couldn't miss the opportunity to share our idea for the creepiest Halloween costume we could find. Bats, after all, are so last year, so this year why not go as a Bat Fly (Nycteribiidae)? They are a fly that looks like a spider and have co-evolved with their bat hosts to become very hard and flat, ensuring that they are almost impossible to remove, ewwww... I mean fascinating! Bonus: They'd make a great couples costume, especially if your partner is a hugger (or just really clingy)!

 

Check out more info here.

20 October 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody!! Today we are looking at the Deepstaria Enigmatica, a species of Antarctic Jellyfish, about which very little is known due to the depths at which it is found. The way it moves has been likened to a lava lamp, we think it looks a little like something you'd see in a manga film!

 

It is thought that it catches its prey by 'bagging' (the only Medusae thought to use this method), where prey swims up into its 'umbrella' where it is stung and paralysed, and then moved towards the mouth through peristalsis (wave-like muscle contractions). Why not check out a video of this here.

13 October 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Happy Freaky Fact Friday everybody! Today we are examining the crazy fact that to date we have explored less than 5% of the ocean! Can you imagine how much is still left to learn and how many creatures are still undiscovered?

 

The highest point from sea level is of course Mount Everest (measured at 8,848 m/29,028 ft), and thousands of climbers have scaled its peak, but the number of people that have descended to the earth's deepest point, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (measured at 10,994 m/36,070 ft), can be counted on one hand! Why not learn more about the trench, the perilous descents taken to explore its depths, and the remarkable creatures found, in Top5s documentary?

12 October 2017

The Napantao Fish Sanctuary Sign is up!

Its been a long time in the making but we are proud to unveil our new Napantao Fish Sanctuary sign!

 

Our team in the Philippines have been working hard in coordination with Barangay (village) officials to create an accessible and aesthetically appealing sign that will continue to promote the sustainable and responsible use of Napantao coral reef for years to come. We are always proud to shout about the beauty that resides within the coastal waters of Napantao from its incredible coral reef to the smallest of nudibranchs and we hope that the permanent sign will remind all that visit the MPA and its surrounding waters to do so thoughtfully, facilitating in the area's conservation.

 

With a constant reminder of the MPA's boundaries and respective ordinance, such as the Do's and Dont's, the sign aims to reduce illegal poaching within the area, increase compliance and to ultimately, supplement conservation activities within the community, working towards a sustainable fishery and future.

6 October 2017

Happy Freaky Fact Friday!

Today's topic for Freaky Fact Friday are Sea Stars and their phantom limbs!

 

Echinoderms all share one common trait, radial symmetry - where their appendages point out from a central axis. However, it is Sea Stars that share a really cool ability, they can regrow severed limbs! In some cases a severed limb will even grow a new Sea Star. Think about that the next time you're watching The Walking Dead! You can find out more info on this here.

30 September 2017

Bidding a Fond Farewell to Montserrat

Today CCC bid farewell to Montserrat. Over the last month our staff have been wrapping up the project and sorting out the equipment ready to be shipped back to the UK. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers, scholars, staff, and of course the Montserratians themselves, who have helped to make this project such a success.

 

Now it's time to collate and analyse all of the data that has been collected since 2013. All of CCC's data is open source, and we look forward to handing the raw data over to the Montserrat Government (and other environmental organisations on island) along with the final report, once completed. The report will go up on the website here, but we'll make sure to shout about it too!

16 September 2017

Celebrating International Coastal Cleanup Day!

Photo courtesy of Javier Del Campo

Due to International Coastal Cleanup Day on the 17th September, CCC staff decided to organise an activity of cleaning up the nearby beach of Napantao. On the 22nd September a visit from the Provincial Government was scheduled for assessing the situation of Napantao MPA, so the Barangay Captain requested us to clean the beach for that visit.

A CCC family photo post clean up, tired but happy :)! Photo courtesy of Jerome Napala

A variety of games were prepared for the local kids in order to raise their awareness about the importance of keeping our oceans and beaches clean.

 

In the end CCC staff and volunteers managed to gather 15 large sacks of rubbish weighing a massive 287 kg! All kinds of rubbish items were found, from fishing lines and nets, to old flip-flops and glass bottles. And now Napantao Beach looks much cleaner! 

September 2017

A Day in the Life with CCC!

Coral Cay Conservation Scuba Instructor, Philippa Roe, is a dab hand with a camera and took lots of videos and photos during her contract. Here we see a typical day with CCC! Thank you to all of the staff, scholars and volunteers who feature.

26 August 2017

CCC Hold a Reef Rangers Day with Barangay Kahayag!

Photo courtesy of Jesse Tinapay

On August 26th, CCC welcomed 12 children from Barangay Kahayag to Napantao for their Reef Rangers Day.


After a warm welcome, the day started at 08:30 with the Project Scientist giving the children a small tour around our facilities and a small safety briefing. Next, came a lecture about dangerous creatures and basic safety rules that must be respected while snorkelling.  Following this was a lecture about coral reefs, coral lifeforms and fish families led by the Project Scientist with the support of the Community Liason Officer. The children were taught about coral and fish diversity, identification, coral reef biology and ecology, and included threats to reef and their solutions.

Photo courtesy of Javier del Campo

To make sure that the children had learned what they were taught, we played a game called 'Slap the wall' in which the children had to answer questions about the lectures. To add a little competition, the children were divided into 3 teams of 4  and they really showed how much they had learned about coral reefs! Later, was another game called Scavenger hunt in which every team had to complete a mission given by the Project Scientist. This created much laughter and was a great opportunity for the children to get to know CCC staff members and volunteers. Right after the kids had a break to reenergise and eat some snacks made by our cook.

 

The children were then given a practical training session about snorkelling: how to use the mask, snorkel and safety jackets, useful signals and how to do a buddy check. Just for fun, children also tried to breath from a scuba tank monitored by the Project Scientist and some volunteers.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Sidebotham

Finally, it was time for our snorkel session! Each kid went snorkelling hand in hand with a CCC staff member or volunteer. All of them showed a very good attitude, pointing to some corals and identifying the lifeform as taught during the lectures. One of our key moments was when we went to Nemo city where tens of anemone fishes swam around. CCC staff member and volunteers received lot of smiles and words of gratitude by the children after the great day they had together!

August 2017

CCC Montserrat Welcome a School Group on Site!

We recently welcomed a UK school group onto our Montserrat site. They were a joy to host, and were not afraid to get stuck in, in addition to experiencing the culture and meeting the community on island. One of the students kindly sent us this fab video which we are happy to be able to share with you, thank you Alis!

31 July 2017

Making Lifelong Friends!

Our recent Philippines Science Officer, Sarah Mynott couldn't leave the Philippines without grabbing the opportunity to take a mini tour and check out some of the amazing sights around the Philippines, one of which is Mount Pinatubo - the lake in the background is formed by a volcanic crater and is the deepest in the Philippines!

 

This photo is such a great example of the friends that one makes on expedition. The three ex CCC scholars pictured Joaquin, Ryan and Jesus, had not even all met each other but were brought together through their mutual love of the ocean! They met up for a hike up one of the most scientifically & historically significant volcanoes in the world and had a great time. Hilariously they also all happened to be wearing their CCC t shirts without even discussing it beforehand :)!

1 July 2017

Learning all about Flightless Birds!

Science Officer and Community Liaison Officer, Ian, supervises the creativity!

This was Coral Cay’s penultimate library session in Montserrat since we arrived on the island in 2013. The topic was “Birds that cannot fly”, and was chosen because of the interest and surprising depth of knowledge from some of the regular attendees (Sylvester and Sylvan) at the last library session. There was a fantastic turn out with ten children attending both the presentation and the craft session afterwards.

Children were introduced to the flightless birds of the ocean, the forests and jungles, as well as the fast runners of the open plains.  Recently extinct birds from New Zealand and the Indian Ocean were also included. 

 

A talk about flightless birds wouldn't be complete without a discussion about kakapos, or owl parrots as they are also known. These nocturnal, ground-dwelling birds are highly interesting in that they are the only flightless bird that uses a 'lek' breeding system; where males gather in an open area and diplay to court prospective breeding partners.

 

We are very pleased to announce that ‘Blue Halo’  (an on island partnership between the Government of Montserrat and the Waitt Institute)  will continue with the library sessions on the third Saturday morning of every month.

 

It’s been such a pleasure to open the minds of Montserrat’s youngest inhabitants to the wonders of the natural world, and we would like to thank them for their enthusiasm.