Dugong by Steve De Neef
“From about 2 years ago, a dugong (Dugong dugon) grazing in the seagrass of the Calamian Islands. It took 6 days of 12 hours on a boat to be able to get close to this dugong underwater. Unlike it’s photogenic cousin the manatee, dugongs are usually incredibly shy in the wild. They are also in need of protection, there’s only very few left in the Philippines.”
Current happy place.
My Monday Morning Blues…
… and Azures, and Cyans, and Turquoises, and Periwinkles, and … well you get the picture.
It is my happy place.
I’ve gotten so many questions recently about marine science as a career. Doubts about money, job prospects, family pressure, the future etc. I will say one thing: Find your happy place and then figure out how to work there. Sure it might not be easy, or that simple, and you may have to compromise (This photo was taken two weeks ago, today I’m sat in an actual office), but when you love what you do you tend to be successful at it.
Maybe your happy place isn’t marine conservation in the tropics, maybe it’s a wet lab experimenting with ocean acidification scenario’s, maybe it’s knee deep in a Mangrove forest, maybe it’s teaching kids about rock pools, and maybe it’s changing every year. Either way, follow your passion - just keep your head screwed on about it.
Philippines scores 51 out of a global rank of 105 for the shiny new Ocean Health Index.
This index treats people and nature as integrated parts of a healthy system, by evaluating the health of the oceans through ten goals that reflect out relationship with the ocean. The higher the score, the more successful and sustainable achievement of those goals.
Because ocean health is our health.
We could do better, for a country that is the center of marine biodiversity in the world, we should do better.
The Philippines never fails to amaze me.
Our capital is suffering horrendous flood. Half the months rainfall fell in 24 hours. Half of Manila is submerged, in some places up to chest level. 16 people are reported dead, people are stranded on roofs, floating on debris, and TWEETING for help. #rescuePH and #reliefPH are bringing rescuers to the rescuees, and supplies to those displaced.
And in the mean time, everyone is making the most of it. School’s out, work’s out, the stock exchange is out and all over social media people are laughing and taking the piss out of the situation (see photo).
“The Filipino spirit is waterproof”
I am so chuffed for her! It’s the first step in her plan to start a collaborative Reef Check monitoring in the area!
It’s a pioneering step for her to take. She told the local government that if she, and other fisheries officers in her Province are supposed to protect the marine environment, and the waters of Puerto Galera have been named the marine biodiversity capitol of the world, they should be able to see and connect what they are working with.
Such a simple concept, and yet so tragically lacking in this country. A friend of mine, Anna Oposa, who lobbies for better environmental protection in the Philippines has said this before - how can we expect our government to want to save the coral reefs if most of them haven’t even seen them?
Well, Grace Peliño, previously a social worker who taught herself all there is to know about coastal marine ecosystems, has picked up the baton, gotten the ball rolling, and all off her own back. No inspiration needed.
Me and Grace kicking it on the way to organize an education campaign for over 200 fishermen on “Caring for Coasts, because they care for us” through the Green Fins initiative.
Instead she is my inspiration, and I hope to many many other (fisheries officers) as well.
After all, no corals reefs, no mangroves, no sea grass….no fish!
Today is an AMAZING day for conservation in the Philippines!
The Large Marine Vertebrates Project spotted a pod of Pygmy Killer whale (Feresa attenuata) in the Bohol Sea. They have not been seen in the Philippines for 20 years!!
The last sighting was reported by L. Dolar in June 1992 (Leatherwood et al. 1992).
Cetaceans in the Philippines are protected under the Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 185 (1992), and 185-1 (1997). Coincidence? Does it take 20 years of protection for these populations to recover?
Remember my post about LAMAVE finding the first match of a whale shark in two different regions in the Philippines? This is a shot from the wonderfully talented conservation photographer Steve DeNeef. Steve has mad skills behind the camera and is able to make the most unattractive conservation work look appealing!
No wizardry here though, just talent. I can’t think of many things more awesome than a night survey for whale sharks with a lightning storm in the background! This is Dr. Alessandro Ponzo and one of his volunteers Dom on a survey in Leyte, Philippines where the photographed a match to one of the whale sharks previously seen in Oslob where they feed the sharks for tourist interaction.
Ah-ha! Here is Steve De Neef’s diving highlights of 2011 that I wanted to share with you. Aren’t the Philippines beautiful?! All the more reason to protect them. Enjoy…. x
LA.MA.VE is the Large Marine Vertebrates Project - The organization I currently work for (researching, not feeding whale sharks) in the Philippines held the 2nd Annual Dolphin Festival in Bohol yesterday. The Bohol Sea is a hot spot for cetaceans and the festival aims to raise awareness, and promote protection of the marine environment.
Sadly I couldn’t go but it looked awesome! Face paint, murals, games, films, a parade…and it looks like everyone got involved. Next year, next year.