Cambodia Marine Conservation Project – July 2012
This month was extremely productive, we got to put into practice all the research that was planned and discussed the previous month with experts from the Seahorse Trust and Save Our Seahorses.
All the hard work in training volunteers in June paid off with our reef check surveys being completed in the first 2 weeks of July despite the weather. Surveys were done on 6 of the local dive sites. The reef check surveys look at indicator invertebrate and fish species as well as the substrate composition of the reef. These surveys will be again reproduced in the first couple of weeks of each month to access the health of the ecosystem.
Our major goal with the seahorse research is to find out exactly where they are and get an idea of the local seahorse population; i.e. Species present, percentage of males versus females and juvenile numbers. So far we have marked 14 seahorses on the site known as ‘The Corral’. Of these 14, 8 were male, 4 female and 2 juvenile. All sighted seahorses have been of the Hippocampus spinosissimus species.
We already know that there are seahorses present on ‘The Corral’ we are now branching off a little to look at other sites around the project that have previously had seahorses or have suitable habitat that seahorses should be inhabiting. So far we have sighted seahorses in the channel between Koh Koun and another dive site called ‘Vietnamese Bay’.
With the beginning of benthic surveys looking at the substrate composition and invertebrates, these new sites where seahorses have been sighted will also be included in the survey sets.
To find out more about the lives of the Cambodian seahorses we have started trying to collecting their faeces. To do this seahorses are captured for several hours and placed in jars with holes in them to still allow for water movement whilst retaining the faecal matter. So far we are yet to collect anything as we release the seahorses after an hour before they show any signs of stress.
With the rainy season upon us, more and more boats use our bay for shelter. This means more and more rubbish that gets washed in off the boats. Volunteers have done a great job cleaning the beaches in all kinds of weather to remove all sorts of rubbish from playing cards to plastics and general rubbish to shoes.
We have finally got a new school building for the children. This one is leak proof and cooler for the lessons. The new school building is closer to the project site which is great as it means more volunteers that are here for conservation can also take part in helping out with the lessons. With the new classroom it seems that the children also have a new attitude towards study, which means sometimes children turn up to several lessons a day, especially now that Khmer school is on holidays. It is great to see everyone turning up and really keen to learn even in their holidays.
We have started a playground up behind the village near the Khmer school. At the moment we are still clearing the land which is a big job, removing rocks, small plants, scrub and grass. When finished it will be an amazing 15m x 7.5m wooden fantasy playground and I’m guessing volunteers may be the first to give it a go.
Thank you to the 10 students from Duke University for coming down to the project from Phnom Penh to make a start on the playground. They set the project in motion measuring out the area and beginning the clearing.
Project Coordinator, Cambodia