In a sense, I have been making some MOVES lately. The biggest item on my CRM to do list is to get in the (DAMN) water. But really. Inopacan is home to 4 coral reef ecosystems just off the mainland. 2 are on the smaller scale ~20 ha and the other 2 are fairly large coming in at a little under 40 ha. They have all been previously “established” as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) but I put that in quotes because there is currently zero management implementation…which is why I am here hehe. What kind of reef is it? How healthy are the corals? What types of corals are present? What about fish abundance? Biodiversity? Any indicator species? Signs of degradation? I could go on. The most recent data regarding the reefs was recorded at a cringey 5 years ago.
*Cue Ya Gurl*
I spent last week organizing baseline assessments with my counterpart. We settled on dates for each assessment and began gathering needed materials and preparing the SCUBA gear (!!!) I sent out letters to the respective Barangay Kapitans requesting the presence of the fisheries council member along with a couple other interested stakeholders such as fisherfolk or Bantay Dagat. We reserved an LGU boat, boat operator, and fuel.
I’m planning to lay out at least one transect line of best fit across the reef and perform coral cover estimations using a quadrat. Depending on the reef shape and depth I might do several. That will be pretty much it for quantitative data. The rest will be media. I want to take my GoPro and do a nice slow video around the entire border of the reef. I’ll use the GPS data later to determine plausible coordinates for the protected area. My goal here is to take ALOT of footage for two reasons;
- While I am familiar with corals in the lab I am still embarrassingly new at coral and tropical fish ID in the field. More photos = more practice.
- Our photos, videos, and observations during these baseline assessments are going to be our main tool in starting the marine sanctuary conversation within the barangays. These are called baseline assessments for a reason! I need to inform stakeholders of the delicate ecosystem right in their backyard while getting them excited about protecting it!
While I am ~stoked~ to get a move on these assessments I’m fairly nervous about diving again. It has been a long, LONG time, since I received my SCUBA certification in February before my conservation corps stint in Cali. This week I was supposed to assist cool gal and fellow CRM Volunteer Margie with her LGU’s giant clam tagging project, BUT it was postponed due to the typhoon that blew through Leyte. (Don’t worry it was only a signal 1 typhoon and we just got a little bit of rain. It was actually quite nice because it cooled down significantly here and I slept without my fan for the first time, ever! Big things!) Nevertheless, I wasn’t able to brush up on my dive skills before hitting the water for my own assessments. Not ideal.
But, nothing is ever ideal and everything will always be uncomfortable and that’s just Peace Corps. The next couple weeks I’ll be heading out with a bunch of guys twice my age or more, using a skillset I’m rusty on, in a language I am still only novice. HERE WE GO.
When initially planning these assessments I had nothing but time. Plenty of room in the ol calendar, but things have seriously been stacking up since. I believe the end of the year typically becomes more chaotic with last minute report submissions, deadlines, and projects that need to be completed by the end of the quarter. I’ve been asked to assist the neighboring municipality of Hindang with habitat assessments on the island barangay of Himolkian next Friday. Himolkian is actually part of Cuatro Islas, the other three islands being under the jurisdiction of Inopacan. I was able to see the three islands during our solid waste management evaluations (I’ve attached some pictures below :)) so I’m ecstatic to finally see the 4th! Plus, I’ll be able to do some networking for the Cuatro Islas coastal cleanup I proposed for February of next year. Something I’m learning very quickly is to never pass up a networking opportunity.
The following week after assessments I’ll be participating in “Inopacan Day” and all the anniversary activities that will entail. Apparently, I’ve been signed up for a volleyball team and my officemates keep telling me I will be dancing aswell. Sure, why not. At this point, just give me a time and place and I’ll be there.
It’s Friday afternoon before our Monday assessment. I went to the office this morning at the usual 8 AM to no supervisor, no counterpart, and actually, no other co-worker the office was locked up no one was around. So I went home. I needed to make a quadrat for the assessments so I asked Nanay and Tatay where I could buy PVC pipe and connectors. It quickly became anecdotal. My tatay has been working tirelessly renovating the back of the house which involves installing new water pipes. I think he assumed I was trying to buy him more piping or help with the water system that day since I wasn’t going to work. He was very very confused. I love language barriers. Once I realized the misunderstanding I explained “dili man, para sa assessments, para sa assessments Tay!” (No for the assessments for the assessments Dad!) and we laughed it off. Eventually I made my way to the hardware store, found some pipes and elbow connectors and that afternoon Tay helped me saw them into 1m sections – a quadrat was born.
However, the only color PVC the store had was blue, and guess what else is blue – the ocean! I’m hoping to find some bright orange spray paint/tape/still figuring it out to make the quadrat stand out more for our pictures in the field.
So there’s me, send me good vibes the next couple weeks cause I’m definitely going to need them!