Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Horse Shoe Crab Release




A short stop in Lahad Datu for breakfast around 6am today turned into another Marine-life Rescue Mission for TRACC. Two Pala'u ladies arrived at the morning market with 3 horseshoe crabs. Both of them hardly speak any Malay so couldn't find out the exact location where they caught these pre-historic looking creatures. 
Anyway, bought all 3 horseshoe crabs and took them to Pom Pom island. I personally have only seen one here last year but we have seen many small ones in Kulapuan. Hope the release of one big female and two smaller males will bring back the population of horseshoe crabs around Pom Pom island. Our staff and volunteers were so excited to have this rare opportunity to handle these living fossils and releasing them back into the sea! - Gon

Horseshoe crabs are easy to catch and are often found in the fish market. They don't have any "meat" to speak of and taste a bit like fresh seaweed (salty, rubbery, cold and disgusting).

Horseshoe Crabs are often called "living fossils". The earliest record of them is in the Ordovician period 450,000,000 years old and they haven't changed much since.

They're more closely related to spiders than crabs but have 10 legs rather than 8 and external gills like a prawn.

They also have a peculiar number of "eyes". There are two compound eyes where you might expect them to be, but then there are five additional "eyes" that have different resolutions and functions - two of them respond to visible light and three to ultraviolet. There are also light receptors along the tail that helps the Horseshoe synchronize its body clock with light and day. Finally, there are two ventral (on the underside) eyes near its mouth.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

WINNER -- for the Energy Globe World Award 2016

TRACC.org working on coral reef conservation in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia has been chosen as WINNER in the Water category for 2016.  We were nominated in 2016 as one of the three finalists in the category water for the Energy Globe World Award 2016.  Thanks to the judges who had the difficult task of chosing between coral reefs and water shortages in Africa.




The Energy Globe Award is an important award for sustainability worldwide.

This year, EGA have received about 2000 applications from 180 countries. Out of the many great projects and inventions, the international jury has selected OUR project “ Restoring coral reefs to survive climate change ” as one of the 16 most outstanding projects worldwide. Our nomination in the final 3 projects for the category water was announced officially on 24th October on Energy Globe World Award 2016 website.

The award ceremony will be part of the UN Climate Change Conference on 10th November in Marrakech, Morocco.

THANKS TO ALL OUR STAFF & VOLUNTEERS  AND COMMUNITIES, WE MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT BUT WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOUR HELP.

Saving coral reefs is what we do – with your help –  so please pat yourselves on the back if you have helped TRACC and send a great big thank you :-) to all our supporters.



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If you want to visit and volunteer to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org


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If visits to Tracc are not possible then like us and share our projects on Social media.
Donations to community projects, or support / sponsor an Intern or Marine science student are always welcome.

Best marine science student in the world - 2nd year running.

The best marine science student in the world second year running, 2015 and 2016.
Well Done Christine (2016) and Tom (2015)  :-) :-)

best marine science student in the world
Classroom with a view. And excellent place to study.


TRACC teaching has recieved the fantastic news that for the second year, we have beaten all other students across the world to achieve the honour of highest scoring Cambridge Examinations Marine Science student in 2016.

The rest of the ALL STAR students in 2016 also did really well with only A*, A’s and B’s.

In 2015, we also manged the best marine science student in the world plus great results all round

Do you need great results to help get into University? Gap year or year out with a qualification!  Do you want to be a better Scuba divemaster or Instructor? Get more knowledge about the ocean through a professional, internationally recognized, Marine Science Course.
 
Why do we get good grades -  TRACC only offers one A level, Cambridge Marine science 9693 and we get excellent results.
Our record for A grades is 75%.  That's a whole lot of UKAS points if you want to get into uni, or its a good step towards your first year at college.

Scuba diving & Marine science lessons on a beautiful tropical island can get you a real internationally recognised Pre U qualification in a 14 week period of 2017.  The A level starts mid Jan 2017 and ends with the exams in late April.

For more info@tracc-borneo.org
http://tracc.org/marine-science-course-a-level-9693/

More blogs on Marine science class 2016

Saturday, 29 October 2016

End of an Intern experience


Cliché as it is, they are right about how time flies. 
In a blink of an eye, I am at the end of my Intern experience.  Four months have passed. My time in TRACC has finally come to an end. 
Over the past four months, I have gone through the ups and the downs but I have learnt so much at the same time by taking up some leadership roles in TRACC. Leading dives, fish surveys, turtle walks, organizing fun day trips, turtle surveys and so much more. Although I will not miss the centipedes crawling around outside my tent or mosquitoes and sweaty humid weather, I will miss everything else. 

Intern Experience - too many

 Alone time on the jetty-the cool breeze from the jetty-the sunset that hits Bohey Dulang-turtles that popped up once in a while to breathe-dolphins that past by house reef-girls night with my favourite girls-naked dive-horror movie nights-Rasma’s and Neng’s cooking-Gon’s late night cooking snacks-the tiki bar-hammock talks with Christine-bottle scraping deep talks-creative bottle reef making with Sophia-crashing CBR’s place during the Olympics-peanut butter and kaya crackers-Community Coral day at Kalapuan-saving CBR’s big boat from sinking during a late night storm-errands in Semporna-juggling session with Chris-badminton session-the fireflies-the moon that shines over TRACC-the games of werewolf-the glitter-the 80s theme party-the tribal theme party-cooking sessions with party music with the girls-late night grilled cheese sandwich making with Alana-uno games-Joey’s constant whining-Monsoon’s weird sleeping patterns and howling-Black Jack’s overall craziness-coming up from every dive to discover new species of nudibranch-seeing an eagle ray breaching from underwater-discovering a translucent nudibranch that curls up into a ball when it got swept away by the current or even the late night heart-to-heart talk at the jetty. 

Ultimately, what I will miss the most is the friendship that was formed. 
The people that I met, that come and go and the company of them. Cheesy as it sounds, I will miss all the TRACC staff members, the volunteers and our dear friend Erik Hagestad. Now, I close this chapter in my life and look back with no regrets, knowing that I will one day return to this beautiful island call Pom Pom. 

(This blog is written by Natalie Chai)

If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org


For more updates on TRACC check out our FacebookTwitter or Google+


If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook

Chinese School Group at TRACC


TRACC were host to a large Chinese FSXH school group in summer 2016 who came to visit for the first time. There were a total of 16 high school students from China and 4 teachers. Most came to learn how to dive, learn about what TRACC does and be involved in marine conservation. These students had no knowledge of what marine conservation is all about and what TRACC does and so many of the TRACC staff including myself had the opportunity to teach them about the life under the sea.

While most of the dive masters were assisting the instructors with the students’ open water and advanced open water, I had the opportunity to help Tom (the science officer) out with the science education. We gave short classes on coral identification, fish identification and artificial reef. I found teaching and educating these students really exciting. Not only was I learning as I teach, the students were really enthusiastic and wanted to learn more about the marine life. They are constantly asking questions and giving out burst of amazement about the uniqueness of every single species of marine creatures. As soon as we finished our classroom section, we hit the water for some snorkelling and started identifying the types of family fishes. Even though many of the students barely know how to swim and some are terrified of the water, they are still really excited to explore and discover the fishes or corals that they just learned. 

Natalie and Evelyn.
 Thinking back on the memories with the students, I personally felt really inspired by them. One of my favourite memories was teaching a student how to swim. Right from the start, before we head into the water, I could tell Evelyn was scared of drowning but yet she was determined to learn how to swim. In no time, she was swimming like a professional athlete. The best part of this particular experience was not only does Evelyn feel accomplished, I felt equally accomplished as she was.  We constantly high five and hugged each other and there was no other way to describe that feeling of achieving the same goal with another person. It’s amazing how much I have seen her grow from a non-swimmer to an excellent swimmer and diver. This was definitely a one-time experience I would never replace it for the world. The challenges and accomplishment that were faced are those memories I will look back now and appreciate the opportunities that TRACC has given me.


(This blog is written by Natalie Chai)


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org

For more updates on TRACC check out our FacebookTwitter or Google+


If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook

Fun Dive at North Tip

The diversity at North Tip
The biodiversity at North tip has changed dramatically since May. Bluespotted ribbontail ray, nudibranch, bumphead parrotfish at the size of approximately one meter, humphead wrasse and the redtooth triggerfishes definitely grabbed my attention throughout this dive. Evidently, the photo above shows the diversity of fishes at approximately 30 meters. The redtooth triggerfishes are seen gracefully swimming about in the open blue water.

Redtooth triggerfish are one of the most diverse fish at North Tip.
Blue spotted ribbon tail ray at North Tip.
Furthermore, humphead wrasses have not been seen for more than five months. However, they were recently seen again in mid-August. During this fun dive, an adult humphead wrasse was just swimming peacefully past us. It was definitely a sight to see as I have never seen a humphead wrasse swimming in the ocean but rather I will always see these wrasses in Chinese restaurants, cramped up in small tanks ready to be slaughtered.  TRACC has so far bought and released 15 juveniles :-)

Humphead wrasses and Bluefin Trevally at North Tip.

(This blog is written by Natalie Chai)
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If you want to visit and volunteer to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org


For more updates on TRACC check out our Facebook, Twitter or Google+


If visits to Tracc are not possible then like us and share our projects on Social media.
Donations to community projects, or support / sponsor an Intern or Marine science student are always welcome.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) Proposal


As part of my intern experiences, on the 16th of July, I was given a chance to take a further step deeper into my learning and be part of a proposal meeting by representing both TRACC and Shark Stewards.
 

The proposal meeting was held in Kota Kinabalu and the proposal was on protecting sharks and rays in Sabah. I am so grateful that I was given such a great opportunity by both Dr David McGuire, the founder of Shark Stewards and Prof. Steve Oakley of TRACC to participate and be involved in this pre-proposal meeting.
 

I was able to meet people from different organisation including WWF Malaysia, Scuba Zoo, LEAP, Scuba Junkie, MNS and MCS. Including TRACC and Shark Stewards, these eight non-profit organisations forms an association call Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA) where they work together to protect sharks and rays in Sabah. I personally found my first experience of a pre-proposal meeting intense but by the end of the meeting, I felt thankful that I was able to be part of this proposal meeting. Not only did I get to meet different organisations that share the same goal and passion to protect sharks and rays in Sabah, I was involved in a proposal that we all hopes will have sharks and rays protected in Sabah. That in itself fills my hearts knowing that we are all trying to make a difference not just for the sharks or rays but for the whole world. 


All my intern experiences

 
(This blog is written by Natalie Chai)


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org
For more updates on TRACC check out our Facebook, Twitter or Google+


If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook


Friday, 14 October 2016

Funday at Matabuan

A healthy coral reef at Matabuan.

On Sundays, we normally take a day off from conservation work and go FUNdiving :-) I remember when we went to Matabuan as our fun day trip. The ride to Matabuan was rather rough as a storm has just hit. Thus, when we went down for a dive, the visibility was not as great. However, undeniably, the coral reef is so much more diverse and healthier compared to Pom Pom Island. Good job done by Sabah Parks (Mantabuan is in Tun Sakaran Park, and has a marine police presence.)

A green turtle swimming into the blue.
Divers showing off their flying kicks and back flips.
Other than admiring the beauty of the coral reef, one of the most memorial part of the dive in Matabuan was 
when we found a patch of sand at depth about 8 meters. What is more fun than to take off our fins and do flips and flying kicks? We spent a good time defying gravity and although we consumed a lot of our air, it was still unforgettable.


Lunch at Matabuan Island.
Hunger took over after that dive and so we had lunch on the island. We found a good spot with lots of shade, placed a tarp on the sand and settled down. We had some good discussion about what we saw during the dive and played a game of charades. After much laughter, it was time to head back to Pom Pom. Fun day to Matabuan was definitely a day we would never trade for any other days. The dive site, the company of these volunteers, the food, the view and everything else on top of that.

If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please check our website http://tracc.org or email info@tracc-borneo.org
For more updates on TRACC check out our Facebook, Twitter or Google+


Reef conservation would not be possible without generous financial support from
GEF /SGP for Malaysia who are helping our community activities and coralreefcare.com who generously provided materials to build the new reefs.


If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow their projects on Facebook.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Eric - tribute to a friend

Eric Hagestad - Our great friend, dive buddy and nice guy passed away very unexpectedly and we will miss him.

 Always willing and happy, Eric made the most out of life.  He came to TRACC as a divemaster intern and soon became the go to guy for any work or pleasure dive.  Eric loved diving and extended his stay to help the instructors and other dive masters with courses and leading dives.

Eric had a funeral and burial at sea.
His wife describes it perfectly.

... the sky was beautifully clear, the water perfectly blue, and the sun was shining on us as your body was carried in a casket onto the boat. i knelt down for a moment of prayer before we set sail at 8:30 with david, the captain, his crew, and glenn, the funeral director, and his partner, tony. the seagulls flew overhead showing us the way while people waved at us. even the dolphins made an appearance then went under to alert everyone in the ocean what was to come. i sang that song to you over and over like a broken record until we arrived at our destination one hour later. bells were rung and then a changing of the guard ceremony before your body was gently lowered into the ocean. i threw roses to mark the spot and then envisioned the fish tugging at the strings of the shroud to free your body. i saw you slowly, tentatively kick a few times to get rid of the stiffness before diving deeper, faster than you'd ever done before, without oxygen, fins, mask or wetsuit. there was a long parade of sealife trailing behind so happy to welcome your body back.





To help remember Eric at the dive location he loved so much we have built him a TRACC reef.  The Giant E memorial.

All round nice guy, we will miss you.




Eric Hagestad Memorial reef

To our friend Erik, who spent the last half a year on a tiny island called Pom Pom with most of us. He was doing what he loved, building artificial reefs, doing reef conservation and finishing his Divemaster. To honor him we built and installed the biggest and heaviest reef we`ve made to date at Tracc.



With your reef Erik, you will still be providing habitat for fishes and a stable area for corals to grow. Thank you for keeping the north current to a minimum and allowing us to install the E reef safely.
This reef is just for you, we all miss and love you.

Thank you to everybody who made this possible, also thanks a lot to the volunteers who never had the pleasure of meeting Erik, but contributed to the building of Eriks reef.

Lots of Love and best wishes.

 Obituary to Eric.