Where have all the fish gone?

I have just gotten back from a morning snorkel. The weather is warm and sunny, the water blue and I have been looking forward to being here in the heart of the coral triangle hoping to expand my fish identification skills. The only problem I didn’t anticipate, there are no fish. I’ve done a few dives and snorkels since my arrival last week and I am constantly alarmed by the fact that there are no fish. This is a slight exaggeration, there are fish but very, very few. The ones I do see, are small frys (baby fish) which don’t really have enough meat to be worth eating. It would be a gross under statement to say that it’s alarming. It’s terrifying.

The WWF describes the Coral Triangle like this.

The Coral Triangle, the global centre of marine biodiversity, is a 6 million km2 area spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. Within this nursery of the seas live 76% of the world’s coral species, 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species, and at least 2,228 reef fish species.

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2,228 species of reef fish! Then where are they? Why am I unable to see anything other than puffer fish (toxic to predators, including humans), the odd butterfly fish and I’ve seen exactly 3 file fish. And believe you me, I’m looking. The Coral Triangle is supposed to have more coral reef fish diversity than anywhere else in the world. 8% (235 species) of the coral reef fishes in the Coral Triangle are endemic (found nowhere else in the world).

Fish are an important source of food and livelihood for coastal communities. The reefs in the Coral Triangle support about 120 million people and of those some 2.25 million are fishermen. Overfishing is the first problem that comes to mind, overfishing is when we catch more fish than the system can support. There are craters from dynamite fishing visible on dives, as well as old fishing nets strung along the reefs. So why should you care? You don’t eat reef fish from the Coral Triangle. But you like breathing right? Do you use antibiotics or know someone who is suffering with Cancer?

New coral colonies need smooth, hard surfaces to settle on. If there are no fish to eat the algae, then there will be no suitable surfaces for coral to establish themselves. Algae, which grows faster than coral, will then compete with coral for sunlight to photosynthesize. No sunlight equals death to coral. Coral uses carbon dioxide from the ocean, along with Calcium ions to build their skeleton. This is important because it allows corals to become a carbon sink for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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Algae taking over a coral reef. 

A Caribbean sponge that grows in coral reefs, is the backbone of Ara-C which is used in chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma and leukemia. Coral are stationary animals so a lot of them have evolved defensive chemicals that are showing promising results as treatments for heart disease, dementia and arthritis.

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Species; tectitethya the species used in Ara-C 

Corals are helping us in a lot of ways, isn’t it time we help them? So what can you do? Educate yourself. Don’t support fish feeding when snorkeling or diving.

Eat responsibly. You vote with your dollar, chose restaurants that serve sustainable choices.

Chose reef safe sunscreen.

Volunteer when you are on holidays, do reef and beach clean ups.

Start a new holiday tradition of donating to NGO’s.

I remember walking along a beach in Thailand, and thinking I wish somebody would do something about the garbage littering the beach….until I realized, I am someone. And you are too.

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Attending policy meetings…. a good way for diving into a cultural panel !

On our third day of the ZEP’s placement, we had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the local policy makers. Armed with my experience of policy meetings at EU level, I had the interesting opportunity to compare the two types of organisation.

 

Let’s start with the policy meetings at EU level…

Quite formal and organised, each Member State and stakeholder has a “table name” that is put on its vertical position for asking the floor. Suddenly, your name becomes the one from the country or organisation you represents.

> “Germany, you have the floor!” How sexy….

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This is how EU meetings look like!

Even though some conflicting debates may come up, interruption rarely happens and the chair manages the speaking time so that everyone has a chance to express himself.

Micros are also dealt in an organised way, as it is not possible to use more than two micros at the same time. If someone forgets to turn it off or dares to speak without the micro, it is nicely but quickly highlighted to him.

Finally, presentations are rarely interrupted, with potential questions being asked at the end. In case someone does not correctly estimate the time of its presentation or exceeds the allocated time, the chairman gently intervene at one point.

 

What about the policy meetings in the Philippines?

I just had the opportunity to attend one at local level, so my judgement is more limited. However, this is what I could spot.

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This is of course a parodic way of presenting the meeting !

Although it seems to be accepted that the chair has the priority, the person taking the floor is the one speaking the loudest.

Interruption seems to be accepted, either during presentation or debates, while jokes are commonly made during the discussions.

Micros are randomly used and, when used, the loudest then becomes… louder!

On the other hand, some people prefer to whisper questions to the presenters’ buddy rather than the whole assembly.

Finally, the chairman sometimes needs to use his gavel in order to request silence or adjourn the meeting.

 

This would be the best conclusion following this comparison:

Policy meetings are interesting indicators for cultural variation! In that particular case, there are two types of organisation for two quite opposite cultures.

 

Does that mean that what we would call the “un-organised” meeting is less efficient?

I am sure a lot of people would say so… and yet…

My limited experience in Philippino meetings does not allow me to judge them objectively, but when it comes to EU meetings, order and organisation do not always rhyme with efficiency.productivity

Some people can talk for hours without being interrupted, but does not necessarily provide relevant information. What I call the “blah blah” can be used quite often in order to show an appearance of “decision making” which in the end is not really concretised, or takes a lot of time for being implemented.

In any case, as final and personal statement, I would say that the Philippino meeting, although less organised, was much more interactive to see; not counting Philippino’s hospitality!

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Obviously… still continuing to act like a sponge!

 

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Plastic world

I’m currently living on a small island in the Philippines called Malapascua. When I say small, I mean small, it’s 1 km by 3km and ringed by white sand beaches. If you aren’t a scuba diver you may not know that this island is the only place in the world with almost guaranteed sightings of thresher sharks. So this makes it a bit of a hotspot for divers from around the world. Now you may think that because it’s an island renowned for it’s marine environment, it is free of plastic pollution. However, you’d be wrong. Some of you know that I have traveled extensively often to off the beaten track locations and I have yet to find a place that isn’t polluted with plastic. And lots of it.

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I recently read that the average person uses a plastic bag for 12 minutes before discarding it. Only 12 minutes. And most bags will not get recycled (1-3% worldwide and about 9% in the US). Plastic bags take between 10-20 years to degrade. A lot of those bags will end up as litter in our cities, in our forests and of course, our marine environments. So why should this matter to you? Why should you shake up your convenient routine?

 

 

Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage patch? This is an area characterized by a high level of pelagic plastics that are held in a patch by our ocean currents. Size estimates vary between the size of Texas to twice the size of the United States. And guess what, there is another one now, the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. Sit with that thought for a minute. Let that really sink in. There are two very large ocean patches filled with our 12 minutes of convenience. These plastics are getting banged around and break down into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics.

 

Microplastics are also very good at absorbing toxins. So as these particles are floating around they are collecting PCB’s, DDT and PAH’s. These toxic, plastic particles are then ingested by seabirds, fish and marine animals. If you are eating fish regularly then I strongly urge you find out more about the fish you are consuming. These microplastics are also estimated to kill 1 million seabirds a year and 100,000 marine animals like turtles, whales and manatees.

So what can we do? We can limit our use of plastics. This may seem overwhelming as plastic is everywhere but there are better choices out there. I’d also start small, the key here is changing behaviour and change takes getting used to. So maybe pick one plastic item you use often; plastic bags, cigarette lighters, water bottles, straws and look for an environmentally friendly alternative. Reusable bags are everywhere these days, invest in a Zippo lighter you really like or better yet, quit smoking. (Cigarette butts are consistently one of the main sources of ocean pollution). Ladies switch to tampons that don’t have plastic applicators (O.B. for example). Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are fashionable and lightweight. Talk to people about plastics; ask your store to provide paper bags, write to your governments asking to ban plastics. You don’t have to do everything but you need to do something and you need to start today, with one thing. So what’s your one thing going to be?

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You don’t know what you don’t know

Greetings dear friends! In my first blog I told you how I am embarking on a career change from hospitality to marine conservation by spending 8 weeks in the Philippines learning about marine conservation and getting practical work experience.

Several people have asked me what I will do after the course finishes in December and my answer was I don’t know. This might seem a daft reply but the truth is I didn’t know many things, especially about employment opportunities for someone without a scientific education.

As a friend succinctly told me ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and she was right.

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I have completed the two weeks studying part of the course and I now know what I didn’t know, including the following:

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The world’s oceans are more important than the rainforests when it comes to absorbing carbon dioxide – the cause of global warming.

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How many destructive fishing techniques actually exist and how they are harmful to other animals and have led to fish stocks being depleted.

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And this doesn’t even mention cyanide fishing or long line fishing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The numerous organisations, initiatives, policies, agreements and conventions that exist to protect marine life.

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How those international policies and agreements are implemented and managed nationally and regionally within each country.

One needs to have endless patience to see positive change both politically and in the sea – for governments to agree, for treaties to be signed and effected, for fish stocks to recover, for corals to grow.

Good conservation work is always based on sound science but communication is key – the results, conclusions and recommendations of research need to be communicated effectively to governments, policy makers and the general public. Public support cannot be underestimated in any campaign.

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After a successful campaign, Lego ended its 50 year partnership with Shell. Due to public pressure Shell pulled out of drilling for oil in Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marine conservation covers such a huge range, so where are people focusing their efforts? Here are some of the areas of marine conservation one could choose:

Habitat protection e.g. coral reefs, which are home to many species. Fisheries. Marine chemical pollution. Marine litter. Policy. Sharks/finning. Marine mammals. Invasive species. International trade and vulnerable species to name a few.

These many aspects of marine conservation require a multitude of approaches:

Laws and policies and their enforcement. Data collection and scientific research. Marine protected area management. Alternative livelihoods e.g. tourism, less destructive fishing methods. Area based management. Ecosystem based management and protection. Capacity development – education through awareness campaigns and involvement of stakeholders.

 

One of the most encouraging things our trainers have told me is that not having a science background is not a disadvantage, as marine conservation is as much about managing people as it is about scientific research.

So now I know what I didn’t know, am I any clearer to deciding what I want to do? There are different issues that interest me so for the time being I will do some further reading and research, however I am certainly feeling much more positive that I will be able to put my skills to use to make a positive impact.

Now the studying part of the eight week course has finished, the practical work experience begins! I’m working as a volunteer for a United Nations Environment Programme initiative called Green Fins.

This unique opportunity is the chance to develop some new valuable skills which will be needed to apply for conservation jobs.

Green Fins focuses on protecting coral reefs as they are a valuable habitat for many species and they are fragile and slow growing. A set of guidelines has been developed for diving centres to follow so they (and their scuba dive customers) can reduce their environmental impact. It is simple and effective. No scientific degree needed – just common sense!

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The sad truth is that many divers act irresponsibly under water (standing and sitting on the delicate reef, touching/chasing animals) and are damaging the very environment they want to enjoy.

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This is NOT acceptable behaviour!! This can stress the animal, transmit disease and remove their protective coating. 

The Green Fins guidelines empowers the dive staff to prevent this type of behaviour occurring as well as ensuring the general operation of the dive centre is as environmentally friendly as possible.

How do I fit into this? My role as a Green Fins coordinator is to assess, train and provide environmental consultation to the dive centres.

Every year the dive centre is assessed according to the guidelines; from this we are able to determine their impact on the environment and consequently offer advice on how to reduce that impact. It has been proven that those dive centres that follow the guidelines have less damaging impact on the coral reefs and marine life.

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Protect me – dive the Green Fins way!

I hope I have enlightened you a little and perhaps now you know something new you didn’t know!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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Frustrations of a graduate

I’ve known for almost two weeks about having to write this blog. Two weeks!! And yet here I am at 6.15am, on deadline day, equipped with a cup of coffee that somehow managed to bypass quality control and a hazy/zombie like state of inspiration. It’s not to say I haven’t attempted; quite the contrary. I’ve written the first sentence on six different occasions with some degree of enthusiasm. However, beyond that, I’ve had as much direction as a bat that’s lost its ability to use sonar and a level of reluctance equating to that of someone booked in for a root canal.

But here I am, jumping on the Zoox blog bandwagon attempting to join the elite group of liberated bloggers. Yay! So, what do I write in my first ever blog? On reflection, I think a condensed version of my frustrations as a marine science/conservation biology graduate and my journey to Zoox would be a good start.

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Steph gets blogging 

It’s never really been in question the career path I’ve wanted to follow. Cliché as it sounds my fascination with the marine world kick-started with the adoption of a dolphin as a kid. Believe me, the excitement I expressed would compare to that of a mathematician who finally managed to crack an algorithm after several soul destroying years. Anyway, since then my direction has been evolving but clear, albeit challenging. On numerous occasions I’ve been told there are no jobs, no money and no hope in the field of marine conservation. While discouraging, this attitude ignites my stubborn streak – please don’t tell me what I cannot achieve. However, through these waves of negativity I’ve held onto one positive message spoken from my equivalent of Yoda – ‘if you really want to do something, then you will find a way to achieve it’. Cheers Mum!!

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The struggle is real

From the get go I’ve been aware that experience, commitment and perseverance are key. I’ve travelled and done a fair share of volunteering. However, going from that low responsibility volunteer role to the stipulated 5-8 year experience requirement for that dream job is a repetitive frustration. This is when I found the golden nugget of Zoox, a volunteer programme I was confident to invest in. With a focus on professional development, I’m hoping to gain, build and develop those skills desired by those employing in the conservation sector. Already, after my first two weeks of training I have a positive outlook, with assurance that there are  a variety of opportunities out there for me to pursue. But for now lets see what the next 6 weeks brings.

Until next time! 🙂

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How about that!

Jenny Baker is online!!!!!

Hahahahaha, finally! My dear friends and family will no doubt be surprised by the appearance of a blog – an actual blog written by me!! They all know that although I have a FB page I am not using it very often, I’ve never used twitter or instagram, never posted a photo nor updated my status, rarely commented or liked and my profile picture is 5 years old! Admittedly though I have recently been using the messenger facility more to keep in touch with far-flung friends around the globe and I actually enjoy that very much. That’s as far as it has gone…until now.

So what happened? Why am I writing this blog? All will be revealed in good time my dear friends.

These words are coming to you all the way from the Philippines! I am here to embrace a change of career – from hospitality to marine conservation. Enabling me to do that is the remarkable Zoox organisation.

During my 12 years in hospitality I have had a marvellous time wherever I’ve been working – in ski resorts, summer resorts or on cruise ships. My career has taken me to beautiful, interesting places such as Alaska, Colorado, Panama Canal, South America, many of the Caribbean islands, Slovenia, Iceland and to the countries on the Mediterranean. I’ve made wonderful friends, enjoyed my work and been able to do the activities I love – snowboarding, scuba diving and snorkelling amongst others.

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It was after 5 years of working on ships and 7 years working summer and winter seasons that I felt a career change was necessary. Working in customer service/guest relations can be extremely satisfying – you are helping your guests to have a good holiday, resolving issues and making people happy. However I yearned to do something else, equally rewarding but I didn’t know what.

I began my search by looking at different volunteer projects in order to see what I could get involved in. What I discovered is that there are projects all over the world for everything imaginable. Many appealed to me but I soon realised I was drawn to the ones involving marine life and the opportunity to scuba dive.

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Four months later I was in Madagascar on a 6 week expedition advancing my diving qualification and taking the plunge into learning about marine conservation. After intense training and studying we began to conduct ‘scientific dives’ – collecting data about the coral reefs and the species of fishes on them. We learnt the important role the reefs have, not only for the fish and other creatures who inhabit them but also for the people who live near them. I loved it and knew I wanted to do more to contribute to the marine conservation effort.

However, having only this limited experience in Madagascar and a non-scientific background meant that finding a job I could apply for in the marine conservation sector was rather challenging.

Fast forward to 6 months later and determined not to give up on getting into marine conservation I decided to try and get more volunteer experience. I found the Zoox website and the 8 week course which combines learning the nitty gritty details of how the marine conservation sector functions with practical work experience. I knew immediately I wanted to apply for it, because I would gain the background knowledge that I knew I needed as well as find out what kind of jobs a) are available, b) I would like and c) be good at.

Now here I am in the Philippines on the course!

One key piece of information we have learnt is how social media is used to raise awareness of conservation issues and one of our tasks is to write a blog!

Before I sign off, I’d like to share some sad and worrying images I found that show the consequences of not disposing of our rubbish properly.

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So there you have it – my very first blog! This was a huge step for me but this is just my first one; there are more to come. I’ll tell you more about the course and life in the Philippines another time, until then folks, recycle your rubbish and refuse single use plastic bags – it all helps to protect our precious animals of the sea.

Thanks for reading!

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Why conservation?

I’m lying in bed listening to the rain hit the thatch of the hut. The dampness has permeated into my pillow, not from direct contact, just from the air being so saturated with moisture. It’s early, just before six am, breakfast isn’t for another two hours or so. I had big plans for this blog. I was going to write about my passion for sharks, or about fish consumption and how it correlates to brain health, but my mind is circling something one of our facilitators said yesterday, why conservation?

I generally embrace this kind of confronting question. I usually have lots of discussions and reasons sitting in the back of my mind. I can talk at great lengths about plastic pollution, overfishing or coral bleaching, but it seems like a more intimate question today. Now that I’m here, sitting in a classroom, in the Philippines. I’ve given up a lot to pursue this goal, walk this path. Where is it going to take me? How is it all going to play out?

I could say that I’ve been diving around Asia, and the world really, and the lack of fish I see, has become alarming. Or the algae slowly taking over beautiful coral gardens, or even about doing safety stops through garbage. I could go on about filling my BCD pockets with trash or sobbing into my screen when I see pictures of animals hurt by our carelessness.

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I think about archeologists finding our fallen and buried cities thousands of years from now. Knowing we were too lazy, or narcissistic or apathetic to save ourselves. I think about my father calling me idealistic in a patronizing, rather than supportive way. And I want to prove them wrong. In Jane Goodall’s inspiring words; there is still so much worth fighting for. And I have some fight in me and I want to go down swinging.

I anticipate that the frustration will wear on me as much as it will fuel me. That I’ll need to meet people where they are, while emphasizing the urgency of changing our ways. That feet dragging of governments on every level and in every country, will question my election choices, my level of commitment and of course, my patience.

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I’ve always loved animals and have been a vegetarian almost my whole life. So I’ll think about  turtles, and birds and sharks to drive me forward. I want to inspire and educate people to make changes to  their lives, their diets, their vacation plans. I want them to be as passionate about saving the planet and it’s creatures and habitats, as I am. I want people to really understand what they are putting at risk.

I’ve made the leap into the unknown. I’ve made the choice to get involved, get my hands dirty and confront the lifestyle I’m accustomed to…and I hope you’ll join me.

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Being a sponge

Shortly before my departure, a friend from my Belgian diving glub gave me an interesting advice: “act like a sponge!”

As a response to my sceptic face, she added: “… you know… just absorb everything you will see, learn and discover… exactly like a sponge! … and enjoy this amazing adventure you are going to start!”

For those who are not familiar with this marine buddy, here is one picture:

 

 

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Branching tube sponge (Aiolochroia crassa) – Source: Flower Garden Bank/NOAA http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/about/spongelist.html

 

One week later, I was flying to the Philippines in order to start a 2 month experience, taking part of the “Zoox Experience Programme” (ZEP).

Being a diver interested in nature conservation and having conducted my master thesis in marine biology, it appeared quite logical to develop my professional career in the marine sector.

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My sister (on the left) and I diving at Ouvée in New Caledonia

I had spotted Zoox and its training programmes quite a long time ago and I quickly realised the added-value of ZEP for my professional expectations.

However, I took my time for applying as I was, at that period, building my first professional experience by working at EU level on nature conservation dossiers. Although those 3.5 years of work on terrestrial issues provided me with relevant experience, the idea of coming back to the marine issues has remained stuck in my head. Unfortunately, considering the competition and my lack of practical experience in that sector, finding a job was still challenging.

Around 1.5 year after my first visit on Zoox Website, the timing seemed perfect for me to apply for the ZEP… and so did I!

It has been now almost two weeks that I have joined the Zoox team and the other volunteers in the Philippines, and I don’t regret my decision of taking part of this adventure.

Furthermore … I do act like a sponge!

Indeed, I absorb all the interesting and relevant information provided, from the various issues related to marine conservation, to the necessary skills for becoming a Green Fins assessor.

However, marine sponges do not only absorb! They also filter, “digest” and reject what has been absorbed.

Let’s then hope that I continue being a sponge, digesting correctly the information and rejecting it in the form of practical actions during the next steps of the ZEP.

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SEE YOU !

 

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A Tonne of Trash

My time as a Green Fins assessor is coming to an end and it’s been an incredibly gratifying yet challenging experience. I have been given the chance to work in the conservation industry and really feel that my time and effort made a difference. I met so many dive shop owners and managers and was moved by just how passionate so many of them are about conservation. Many felt disenfranchised by the government’s lack of concern for the marine environment and worry about the future of the reefs. They did not however let this stop them from doing everything in their power to protect the environment. On the 20th of July, over a dozen dive shops (and a few other local organizations) volunteered their time and manpower to participate in a massive clean-up event at a local beach.

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Me, a few weeks ago after having been assigned my project

All Zoox volunteers are assigned a personal project and mine was to organize a beach-clean up where multiple stake holders and community groups are involved. This was a bit intimidating for me because even back home, my friends are usually the ones who plan out activities. I saw this as a personal challenge to improve my sense of authority and organizational skills.

 

The first step was to figure out where to host the event since I didn’t not know anything about the local beaches. I started asking dive centers about potential sites and they all agreed that Doljo beach would be an ideal place because of how much trash there is. This also gave me an idea of which dive centres were most likely to show up, so I would plan around their schedules.

I swear one of the most difficult steps was actually choosing a date. I knew it had to be mid-to-late July given our schedule of Green Fins work but I was reluctant to choose a definite date. I had to give them something to work around but what if the date I gave them didn’t work for everybody? What if the first date I chose only worked for one shop and I had to exclude everybody else? What if I had to change the date, would I not look indecisive and unsure of myself? Eventually I had to just buckle down and pick a date, so I chose the 20th of July (why? I don’t know). Luckily almost every dive center was able to donate volunteers for the event, so being firm with a date turned out to be a good strategy.

Next I had to do something that I had no prior experience with: Marketing. I created a Facebook event to keep all the dive staff posted but I needed something more professional. During my Green Fins work I met a graphic designer named Andronik who offered to design a poster to advertise the clean up. I have no experience with this sort of work so I gratefully accepted and sent him a draft with the basic information that needed to be included. He produced several beautiful posters for the event, which I passed out to participants.

I wonder which one of the following posters was designed by a professional?

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When the day of the event finally came I was understandably under a lot of stress. Did I buy enough trash bags? Are there enough snacks for everybody? What if nobody shows up? What if lots of people show up but they arrive at the wrong place? All of these things plagued my mind until the arrival of the first truckload of volunteers showed up, then more people arrived until eventually the volunteers responsible for registering people became overwhelmed with the amount of people. It was a booming success with nearly 80 registered participants from at least 15 independent organizations. Looking around and seeing such a huge crowd of people all dedicated to cleaning the beach, and knowing that I was the one that made it all possible was quite possibly one of the most satisfying moments of my life.

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The Seaquest dive center team was the first major group to show up

We began to weigh all the trash that was collected bag by bag. The grand total came out to be 972 kg. Knowing how close we were to 1000 kg, I and the few remaining Green Fins assessors went out to collect just enough trash. We collected an additional 21 kg which brought us to 993 kg. We were so close and then suddenly one remaining participant showed up out of nowhere with a bag that had a miraculous 7 kg, putting the final total to 1 full metric tonne!

I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish and I can definitely say that I feel like a more capable person after this experience. I will be leaving Panglao shortly, but I will carry with me the skills and self-confidence I have acquired here for the rest of my life. Here’s to a lifetime of conservation and adventure.

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A group photo with just some of the trash bags

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Connecting the dots

Most dive centres in Panglao do night dives, meaning flashlights will be used and batteries. Also the famous Balicasag, full of wonderful underwater sights, is accessible by boat. Used engine oil and batteries become hazardous wastes that can easily become very harmful and toxic to the environment but also humans. So dive centres find themselves with these wastes and few options: dispose of them with the landfill trucks or let staff re-use them? The dangerous factor in these are the lack of awareness and education. If the used engine oil is put in two plastic bags it is perfectly safe to bury it, isn’t it? If the batteries are thrown in the pig’s enclosure and it helps with the smell, it cannot be dangerous?

Those practices are not made up and that is where the necessity of my personal project is. Educating and communicating within dive centres and with shops to create alternatives that work. Recycling in a sustainable manner these wastes so that the harm they bring stops affecting the reefs the dive centre’s client travel and pay to see. Especially when the benefit is clear!

Why bury oil when it could be so useful to repel insects if used on wood? Because the link to the right places to dispose of used engine oil needs to be created first, and then the obvious answer shifts! I was able to find Fatima enterprises and Wrenleys Honda and meet their great staff who did not hesitate to accept the used engine oil, “talking business” with me after a few seconds! And proudly posing with the posters I brought, happy to help and also get something out of it.

Fatima enterprise (left) and Wrenleys Honda (right)

Great people eager to help and display the Green Fins’ poster

Batteries disposal was a real challenge, no recycling centre or appropriate infrastructure on Bohol. I have brought the issue to the environmental committee for future regulations to be legislated and then implemented by the barangays. Luckily one dive centre that is a Green Fins member has the perfect solution and accepted to share it! Sea Explorers sends their used batteries to a recycling centre in Cebu through Sea Explorers Dauis. And so other dive centre membres can bring their used battery to them.

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Indeed, all about connecting the right dots, ensuring an exchange that is sustainable and benefitting for both sides. Because the solutions are there and just need a little bridge to function.

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