Cambodia Marine Conservation Project – January 2012
January was a busy month with a high turnover of volunteers. We certified and trained over 25 new volunteers in reef check and seahorse survey methodology. We took advantage of the good weather and kept up village and beach clean ups. We also focused on our composting in an effort to promote sustainable disposal of organic materials.
The majority of the month was spent training our volunteers in seahorse survey methodology both on land and in the water. The dedication and willingness of the volunteers meant we could spend the end of the month concentrating on carrying out repeat surveys on a set of 40 GPS points that were surveyed 6 months prior. These points will hopefully be finished in the following month.
This month we have continued to train new volunteers in reef check methodology. The trained volunteers have carried out surveys at 7 different sites around the island. This set of data will be comparable to that which was collected last month.
Fish families are surveyed in an effort to continuously monitor fish populations and a continued increase in size and abundance has been observed. This appears to indicate that the Community Fishing Zone around the island is having a positive impact on reef health. A big thank you to all volunteers who have spent time on the project; reef cleans, patrols and community education have made a huge difference.
The return of indicator species such as the Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometapon muricatum) has also been observed regularly this month.
Reef clean ups are still a great source of interest for the volunteers and these are continued on a weekly basis. The clean ups have recovered damaged traps, illegal fishing nets and general waste.
Two volunteers with extensive knowledge of hard coral and fish species have been instrumental in expanding our species list. Photographs of the Indian Pinstriped Wrasse (Halichoeres chrystoaenia) and Jewel Damsel (Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus) were collected, as well as sightings of Whitemargin Unicorn fish (Naso annulatus).
This month we dropped the remaining 4 anti-trawling blocks at specific GPS points. Volunteers have gone back to these sites to check for growth and nets on the blocks. So far many of the blocks have already started acting like artificial reefs with many bivalves attaching to the blocks and fish using them for shelter.
Class times have been restructured according to age and ability. This hasn’t been without some difficulty, but we’re now making some real progress. We now have a new white board and a volunteer was involved in putting together a simple story book for the school. She replicated her illustrations in order to create enough copies for a class. Weekly swimming lessons have also encouraged the children to speak English in an informal environment. This has so far been very successful.
Beach and Village Clean Up
Clean ups have continued on the beach and in the village, as well as around our project site. Another wedding in the village created a good reason for a village clean up the following day after the celebrations.
A few of the volunteers have reintroduced composting for better waste management and have been responsible for daily maintenance. The incinerator has also been trialled for the burning of small amounts of waste in an effort to reduce and dispose of waste on the island.
“Molly” the bungalow pig receives a lot of attention and her food and water is tended to daily which is always an interesting chore for volunteers. She has a plentiful supply of mud and even received a ball from a volunteer.
The start of 2012 has been very busy and extremely productive, we here on the island think it is just the start of a very successful year. Although we worked hard learning all there is to know about seahorse and reef ecosystems we also celebrated two weddings in the village and a staff member’s birthday which as always bought together the best of Khmer and western party planning as well as everyone learning some new dance moves!
Project Coordinator, Cambodia