Conservation and Environment in Cambodia: Monthly Updates
Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Cambodia – December 2012
This month the volunteers continued to survey seahorse populations, as well as surveying our reef sites. Last month’s reef training really paid off as we were able to repeatedly survey each reef to monitor fish and invertebrate populations as well as reef health. The community fishing area has successfully increased numbers and sizes of fish populations.
Seahorse surveys, as well as training new volunteers, were a success this month. Increased populations of juvenile seahorses meant everyone wanted to get out there and find a baby seahorse. 29 seahorse surveys were completed.
Our marine biologist trialled new seahorse holdfasts this month, where five small concrete blocks with rebar were placed out on the corral in an attempt to determine whether artificial holdfasts will attract more seahorses to the area and make them less susceptible to current movements. We hope to check on these in the coming months to determine the success of encouraging seahorse populations to stay in the area.
The changing weather patterns allowed us to continue diving on the reef. Although we still focus on seahorse population assessments, we are now able to access the reef again and start to monitor fish and invertebrate populations, as well as substrate composition and reef health. Training for identification in both seahorse and reef surveys is time consuming, but all the volunteers have been especially keen in trying to learn everything in time to survey this month.
Working concurrently with this is extending the current list of species found in the area around the island. The volunteers are keen to help out and have been participating in species identification dives in order to recognise new or rare species. Sightings of rare species have also encouraged the volunteers to learn what’s out there.
With some unexpected wind late in the month, the volunteers had their work cut out for them. Daily cleans on Longbeach and Sunset Rock kept them busy, with constant upkeep around the project site as well. The wind brings in rubbish from everywhere, so the volunteers were great at setting a good example for the village.
This month the school had a special week about Projects Abroad and the seahorses. The volunteers were keen to educate the kids as much as possible about the work we do on land and in the water. Helping them to understand the importance of the environment at a young age tied in nicely with other themes including nature and geography. We also had a special Christmas theme where the kids got to create different decorations for the bungalow, helping everyone to feel at home.
Christmas meant all the volunteers got involved in a special meal and different traditions from all over the world. We gave our kitchen ladies the day off so we could make pancakes and sausages, where all the volunteers pitched in for food and cooking. We also traded gifts on Christmas Eve to make everyone feel special.
Diving & Marine Conservation Project Coordinator in Cambodia