Long time, no blog

Grace and I making notes on one of the quadrats

…And there is a good (?) reason. Week 8 of the ZEP is just around the corner, and we’ve all been so busy juggling Green Fins coordination work and personal conservation projects. In between chasing up dive centre managers to organise training sessions and assessment dives, I’ve had my nose in sea grass for the last few weeks, while Tash has been toiling away at the computer drawing up a brilliant Information and Education Campaign and engaging the rental boat companies to attend one of several information evenings. Belinda has been out and about surveying beaches for rubbish and questioning shop owners about the plastic bag ban. Luckily we’ve got our lovely Reef World intern, Hannah, to assist us if we need a second-in-command for any of these activities. Sam and Alan are also available for advice or hands-on assistance. Earlier this week, Alan was on hand to help me conduct a Seagrass Watch Survey in Big La Laguna. From the project inception, Grace Peliño (of the Fisheries Office) had been very keen to conduct this survey, and she too was assisting on the day. So, early on Monday morning, we trekked out to the furthest of the two Lagunas and set up for our survey, which was conducted according to the standardised protocol (for more, see http://www.seagrasswatch.org). The aim is to conduct high resolution data on a relatively small (50x50m) area where seagrass occurs. The methodology is fairly straight forward: three 50m transect lines are laid out 25m apart, perpendicular to the shoreline. Along each transect line, eleven quadrats are placed at 0m-5m-10m and so on. For those unfamiliar, a quadrat is basically a frame (in this case metal, so it sinks ). Within each 50x50cm, we identified the substrate (rock, sand, silt etc), the seagrass species present (if any), the total % of the quadrat covered in seagrass, the relative contribution of each species in terms of cover, the height of the seagrass blades, the % of the quadrat covered in algae, and the % of the seagrass covered in epiphytes (algae sticking to the seagrass blades). We took pictures of each quadrat, and noted the presence of any other marine life that could be of interest. I have to admit the most exciting thing I saw was a goby. Lovely fella, though. The three transects took us pretty much all morning to complete, and we were quite cold (yes, this happens even in tropical places) but content to have successfully completed the survey. We positively identified six different species of seagrass. I am now in the process of collating all the data to send it off to Seagrass Watch HQ in Australia! But perhaps more importantly, the data is intended for Grace to use as evidence that seagrass is an important ecosystem in the Sabang Bay area, which is subject to a variety of anthropogenic influences such as anchoring. In less then two weeks I will be delivering a more comprehensive report to the Fisheries Office detailing my findings on the status of seagrass in the Puerto Galera area, including recommendations for the mitigation of local threats to this critical but poorly understood habitat. It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of the ZEP! All hands on deck for the final push…

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This entry was posted in 2015, Ans, Puerto Galera, The Zoox Experience Programme, Volunteer Coordinator and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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