Arrived in Moalboal

It’s been two weeks since I arrived in Puerto Galera. The weather and the fellow-ZEP’ers have been kind to me. The sea was less kind and gave me two inflamed ears. I ignored the doctor’s recommendation to dive with ear plugs, but kindly accepted the recepy to get some ear drops and antibiotics and the pharmacy. Meanwhile, my ears have recovered.
I am an evolutionary biologist studying seaweeds for the most of my professional career and joined this program to explore the world of marine conservation. I visited the Philippines earlier this year for the first time and felt an urge to return, because I felt like I had not completed my trip. The Zoox Experience Program seemed like a good excuse. The first two weeks were filled with lectures about various aspects of marine conservation and about Green Fins. We also went to sea as part of the course: a dive from the beach to test our dive skills, a boat dive to practice a GF assessment and also a fun dive (not part of the program). Monitoring of coral cover and sea grass cover we did snorkeling. In my free time I also snorkeled off the beach near the village Aninuan where we stay. I am especially interested in seaweeds, but can also appreciate colourfull slugs that are willing to pose for my underwater camera. Saturday we “graduated”, prepared a nice meal together and continued our celebration at White Beach until the wee hours. What happened in White Beach, stays in White Beach …
Tuesday the majority of the group left for Moalboal on Cebu to continue the program there. Each of us will inspect dive operators and find out to what extent they are implementing the Green Fins Code of Conduct. Each will also carry out a personal assignment. Mine will be to communicate complex scientific concepts to non-specialist audiences with the objective to change attitudes and behaviours to encourage sustainable fishing methods. It maybe not realistic to do that all in six weeks combined with GF assessments, but I could make a start. Meanwhile I have a of other things on my plate that have nothing to do with Green Fins (writing research papers, research applications, and job applications). I rent my own little office space with sea view to have time for myself, but still I am not sure I will manage to combine all these things with Green Fins.

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