MoalBoal 34 Days in…
We have been in Moalboal, on the western coast of the Island of Cebu for several weeks. We have all now become certified Green Fins assessors, complete with photographic name ID lanyard, you know you’ve made it big when one has a personalised lanyard.
We have been up and down the coastal street of Panagsama meeting with all the folk in the dive industry here. It has been a real pleasure to meet all the individuals involved. They have all been really welcoming and open to lively discussions about the issues here, marine oriented and beyond. We have implemented Green fins training/awareness sessions with the dive centres, an open exchange of information sharing between what we have learnt and what they can teach us of their local industry and community. With the emphasis on sharing good practice, we have learnt much from each other on how we can enjoy and work more effectively to preserve the marine environment.
We have also met a wide and varied range of members of the community of Moalboal. This includes The Mayor, Baranguay officials, local teachers, and of course to complete the inner circle, a diving priest. Brilliant. I may have been much more actively interested in the Christian faith had the sermons been held in the ocean, slightly more Godly than next to a roundabout in Berkshire.
All we have met have been an interesting, warm and enthusiastic bunch of people. We have visited the local elementary school, discussed ideas with teachers for future training , which led to a Information Education Campaign activity session:- a snorkel scuba taster for teachers!
Fab day. Led by Fiona, supported by team GF, Duncan sideways swimming Go Pro man, G on snorkel support, Sam deep blue girl, and myself portable scuba life support machine.
It was an informative intro to life in the reef and snorkeling was made, followed by watching some amazing underwater video footage by a local dive shop owner, with narration by our very own David Attenborough, Samantha C. Some of the teachers had never seen what lives in the ocean which lies on their doorstep before. They were well impressed! Hypnotised by the life on the reef and the drop off into the deep blue. They were left eager to see more.. an inspiring way to instigate their interest and imagination in delivering a marine based curriculum to their students. An effective teacher training day! I’ve been to a few in my time, the most challenging aspect of most is to stay conscious throughout and ensure prime spot for biscuits with most chocolate coverage at break.
I feel very different to when I wrote my last blog from Aninuan. The blur of information overload has continue in the same force but I actually feel I may be absorbing some information now, which is most re assuring, even more reassuring is that most of it is very useful information. The best kind.
I was having a chat with a v. friendly taxi driver in Cebu on my way to Bohol on a mini mission, who happened to also be a dive master. We were happily chatting away about the amazing scuba diving opportunities found in the Philippine seas. To both of our amazement we heard a well informed voice speaking of the diversity of marine life in the coral triangle, the symbiotic ecosystems there in and how the implementation and effective management of MPA’s could preserve this life for the creatures within, the survival of the local people and the divers alike. We were both equally stunned to hear the voice was coming from my mouth.
I have to say I’m loving this life. The people I have met locally, and my fellow zooxee’s. Work commutes on Banka boats, smiley Filipino faces everywhere, morning ice coffee breaks overlooking the open sea and mountains of Negros, Tanguay rum and my new found love of the quadrat. Those of you who do not know of this instrument of joy, let me explain…
It is a metal square which one takes on a Green Fins assessment dive, one places said square most gently on to the reef and one takes perfect photographic images of the: overview, every corner and a profile shot, every 3-5 minutes. It’s a highly scientific procedure, as you all know I have scientific data pumping through my very core. The aim of the game is to get 20 per dive site. I have become somewhat obsessed with the quadrat. I love it, and all the joy it brings my world. I was able to spread this joy the other day, whilst “in the field” with Duncan, my fellow zooxee. We are both highly trained professionals now. I was preparing my collection of required objects for quadrat work, my camera and of course the beloved metal square, it makes me kind of bulky when fully kitted with BCD fins and the like. I was 100% focused on the imminent plunge into the depths of the water and setting my game to maximum quadrat completion of the wall dive of Pescador island. I failed to notice the elderly Japanese man on my right who was preparing himself for the dive. My quadrat accidentally pushed him backwards into the water. Unfortunately his BCD was not inflated and he had no mask or fins on, but he did have his weight belt on. It was a little while before his little face emerged at the surface again. All was well, he understood the importance of the quadrat. Noted, quadrat work is sometimes perilous, but as we scientists know, the data is paramount, no amount of elderly Japanese diver’s can get in our way. The dive shop was very pleased to have us aboard.
Over and out A.G Quadrat Gardner.