Have a peak into my work with volunteers through Zoox.

Apologies for being more of a curator, than creator of late. Work has been extremely busy and exciting. This is the new video from Zoox, all about the experience programmes we run for people wanting to get into the marine conservation sector. 

We shot this at the end of last year in Moalboal and Puerto Galera, Philippines, but we’re expanding the programme to include Vietnam and Thailand in the upcoming placements (woo!) 

If you’re interested in the programme, please let me know. You wouldn’t be the first person to join Zoox through Tumblr :) 

Love from post-summer Philippines (phew!)


Hi! Just wanted to share some "useful life skills" in marine conservation... I studied Visual Comm. Design in uni but i've always had love for conservation. Throughout the years, I've realized how important Design is for conservation; you know how the conservation world does a lot of awareness campaigns n stuff? Being a qualified Designer can get you jobs in the Design and/or Communications dept. of an org., where you'll get to do some of THE most important stuff in fighting for a cause ;)

Asked by whatevermorleywhatever



THIS. Yes. You’re totally right. Not having any design skills is a battle I face at work every day! Many small NGOs just don’t have the budget for marketing/ design and if you can bring those skills in as well you’re very valuable! 

True; limited budget within small NGOs is quite unfortunate, especially for Designers in desperate search for a good pay.

Although, personally, I always like to remind people that volunteer work is also very important and beneficial; it doesn’t pay, but aside from the fulfilling feeling you get from working for a good cause, the opportunities that they offer can be really awesome (especially when you need to up your design portfolio & experience as a Designer and/or even as a Communication Director/Coordinator, which is basically like the role of Creative Director in Advertising), not to mention the network they can help you build within the conservation world.

The past 5 months I’ve been voluntarily working with a small NGO (under WCS) that is based in my hometown and fortunately, they like me enough that a month into our “relationship”, they offered to write me letters of recommendation, should I ever need it to apply for a permanent job someplace bigger, where a salary is offered. I mean, when you have people from WCS backing you up… *wiggles eyebrows* you know?

High five. 

Hello! I'm really keen on marine conservation as a line of work after university. Are there any courses besides Marine Science that might be useful? Any tips? Thank you!

Asked by Anonymous

Cool question - because marine conservation is such a young industry, and isn’t funded all too well most of the time, you kinda have to be a jack-of-all-trades. So any other life skill is worth having. But off the top of my head - maybe psychology - much of the work is understanding why people do what they do. Accounting? Environmental Law? Politics? Education (as in teaching)? 

I guess you have to think of what you want to focus on within marine conservation. Look up organisations you admire - check out their staff pages and see what people do. Hopefully this will help you narrow it down a bit. 

Good luck! 

A Love Affair with Conservation

It has long been said that it is a fine line between love and hate. When you feel passionate about someone or something it has the capacity to lift you up and bring you down, so so down.

So I sit here, in El Nido, on Valentines Day, and I declare that I have a love/hate relationship with my job. But to be honest I think this is pretty standard for everyone. It does not mean I ever want to quit or change careers. It just means that sometimes, I hate it. However, the scales are well and truly tipped in the favour of Love. The hate lasts mere moments. To mean, this balance is job satisfaction, and I have oodles of it.

Conservation is not glamorous work (previous ZEPs will tell you that never has anyone sweated so much as us in our Green Fins shirts), and there isn’t a continous cycle of feeling rewarded for the good you hope you are doing. The corporate world will still look down on you for the hippie-tree fish-hugging work that you do. The economy doesn’t value the worth of your industry (or you wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail to get funding). People will refuse to listen to science and logic for the long-term benefit of their business, and you know, their planet. You will cry, more than once. You will throw your hands up and ‘give up’ more than once. You will question your choices, your commitment, your passion, yourself. These are just some of those ‘hate’ moments I was talking about.

There will be many, they will be harsh and they will completely pale in comparison to those ‘love’ moments. Here are some of the moments of the past year that have swept me off my feet:

1) Moalboal Dive Guide Seminar

Anyone who follows this blog would have seen my blog post on this and known that I came out of that event on a serious professional high. It was amazing to get the public and private sectors in the same room in the first place. It was magic to hear them voice their concerns, normally directed at third parties, to each other. To see bridges mended, explanations given. To see tempers flare and die down with understanding. And the not only see, but be part of, a change in attitude towards each other. Whether it lasts and is built upon only time will tell, but regardless, it was a special afternoon.

2. Unexpected beach clean up outreach

After Sharon’s highly successful beach and reef clean up we were all hanging around waiting for the elusive dump truck to collect our spoils. Two young Moalboalano girls started hanging around our group. The fact that the ZEPs attrack attention from the local communities is no surprise and we tried to offer them some of the snacks we had for the clean-up participants. The girls took the snacks but refused to eat them, mumbling something in Cebuano that I (shamefully) couldn’t understand. After a few minutes of hopeless encouragement for them to start eating, they pointed at the bags of rubbish. I tried to explain what we had been doing and they nodded in understanding and asked for a bag. They wanted to help to earn their snacks! I took them to the beach and they ran around checking if each piece of rubbish was the correct thing to take. “Ate Sam! Ate Sam! What about this? What about this“. They weren’t our target audience for the clean up, but it just goes to show how a public event can reach out so much further than you intended.

3. Training National Government Partners to be Green Fins coordinators

Last October, JJ and I headed to Manila to start a significant step forward in the management of Green Fins Philippines. We held a training workshop with staff from the project’s national management team, the Coastal and Marine Management Office (recently known as Coastal and Marine Division) to train them to be Green Fins coordinators. CMD has been a wonderful and supportive partner of the Green Fins project, even folding it into the national management strategy for coral reef ecosystem management (SCREMP). I was able to part of building the capacity of the team to manage the project! That I could ‘play’ at this level with these players was a privilege and extremely affirming of my professional capabilities. On top of all of that, I had my first bubble bath in years at the hotel. It’s also about the little things.
4. ADEX 2013
After my own ZEP and before I started my role as Programmes Officer, I was the Principal Investigator for LAMAVE’s whale shark research project in Oslob, Cebu. We were (they still are) investigating the effects of the controversial feeding practice on the sharks. Because of this role, I was invited to speak at the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), whose theme for 2013 was whale sharks. ADEX is my happy place (so. many. stickers) and it has long been a point on my bucket list to speak there.  I have had to do public speaking my entire professional career, but it had been a long time since I’d been nervous about it. No one tells you that living your dreams can be terrifying. But fears were conquered, words were spoken, applause was given and satisfaction was had. The networking I was able to do there was incredible. I met so many wonderful people, and several science/conservation heroes of mine *blush*. This year’s theme is coral reefs. Diving + coral reefs = Green Fins so I’m going back to ADEX for my second fix!

5. CITES 2013

This wasn’t an event I was directly involved in, but I appreciated it as a huge step forward for marine conservation, shark conservation in particular. We were at an inception meeting with representatives from UNEP, IUCN and the Maldivian and Vietnamese national partners for Green Fins. It was an intense few days that saw me frantically taking minutes for the first time in my life. Definitely job satisfaction in hindsight. The meeting was during the 16th CITES Convention of Parties and several elasmobranch species were up for protection after several highly successful public campaigns and years of hard work from elasmobranch scientists and conservationists. On every break I was scrolling through the live commentary from attendees on Twitter, and every (it ended up being all) successful listings brought on skipped heartbeats.  Marine conservation issues are largely overlooked by these big international conventions and it felt like an exciting insight into the future.

6. Birthday 2013

I spent my birthday on a glorious day off in Aninuan, diving our favourite spot with JJ, Wai and Meg (ex-ZEPs and Reef-World interns; we missed you Chloe!). I made some time for my hammock  and having drinks on the beach under the most incredible blanket of stars (before falling asleep like the party people that we are). I was in a beautiful (warm) place, with some of my favourite people doing some of my favourite things. Moments like this continually affirm my life choices, and my pursuit of this line of work, despite those ‘hate moments’ and the other struggles that come hand-in-hand.

2014 has already proved incredible rewarding for the whole team, and it’s only set up to get better. The ocean may not have been my first love, but it is, and always will be, my last.

Originally written for Zoox

IUCN - There is hope for the ocean

Thirty one new Hope Spots - places that are critical to the health of the ocean - were announced yesterday by renowned oceanographer and IUCN Patron Sylvia Earle, a global initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance “Mission Blue” and IUCN, with the aim to scale up the marine protection necessary for a sustainable development of the ocean.

Read more

Sorry I haven’t been posting much original material lately… my time has been enveloped by Zoox and Green Fins work (as jobs tend to do) over the last few months, and as always it has been incredibly rewarding. 

A highlight was a project of one the Zoox volunteers who managed to pull together a week of clean ups around various dive sites and beaches around Puerto Galera, Philippines. 

In total, 205 people participated over the week, and we managed to collect a whopping 953.5 kg of rubbish and throw in a whole load of local community awareness about marine debris.

Organizing a clean up is much more than meets the eye, especially if you want to count what you have collected, or are trying to organize various people or town garbage trucks to meet you at a certain time. But it doesn’t have to be a big event. Take a picnic at a beach with friends, and after you clean up your mess, go and pick up the rest and see what the weirdest thing you can find is. 

On one dive this week, I found everything I would need for for my own picnic including a rug, umbrella, crockery, cutlery and beer (a bit salty but so was the rest!). It’s unbelievable what finds it’s way into the ocean, but when you are faced with the reality of it being right there in front of you, it helps reinforce actions when you are dry again. 

It’s thought that 80% of the trash in the ocean comes from land. And that’s not just beach-side communities, thats you and me, and family and friends. Let’s start there, with what we can easily change, and hopefully we can inspire others to start making a difference too. 

Hi, I'm a junior in high school currently and am thing of pursuing a career in marine biology. I have a few questions. First what do you like about your job and what do dislike? Second, how are your working conditions? Lastly, do you consider your earning sufficient?

Asked by Anonymous

Hi Anon, 

Firstly, let me point out that technically, I work in marine conservation. I love the non-9 to 5 nature of my work, that I get to share my passion and love for the ocean with others, and that I have the skills to educate and try and change peoples attitudes and therefore their actions to reduce their impacts on the marine environment. 

I work long hours, in remote and beautiful places that are sometimes without certain luxuries like hot water, or cheese, or…internet! I both like and dislike this! But really, I don’t dislike much - and if I do, I try to put it in the ‘just-deal-with-it’ box because I love what I do. I am away from family and friends, and moving around a lot means it’s hard to sustain a routine, or have a base, or a relationship but you just have to find a balance. It’s not impossible. I’ve concentrated on how work affects a personal life because at the end of the day, the work is great and it’s the ‘life’ part that you need to make sure you are happy with. 

Yes. My spending habits have definitely changed. I think in Philippine Pesos now, which makes the rest of the world just seem ridiculously expensive. Again it’s about finding the balance between what you want, need and are saving for. 


Where’s the fishing?

Look at the patterns of color out in the ocean, massed against Chile’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary, shown as a green line. There are a variety of fishing restrictions within Chilean waters designed to protect local fishing and fisheries by limiting industrial fishing, but on the high seas beyond the EEZ boundary anything goes. The fishing within Chile’s territorial waters must be relatively good, because this map shows that fishing vessels are trying to get as close as possible without crossing the line, although if you look closely, you can see indications of repeated incursions into Chilean waters (via SkyTruth).   

(via marine-conservationists-united)