Sighting, stories, reviews, and experiences from the diving and snorkeling volunteers with TRACC.

Pages

Search This Blog

20.4.16

Palten Part 2 - Changing Ocean Perspectives at TRACC


Palten started working at TRACC about a year ago. In part two of our interview he shares some knowledge about what he’s learned from TRACC and how his view of the ocean has changed.

“What I want to do is show my family, the beautiful things to see underwater, so they can appreciate them, and how the conservation work would make their lives easier.  Now I only tell the stories, when I can take them for a dive its better that they can see themselves.”

_____________________________________________________________________ 

Gon & Lark: Did you know about the work TRACC is doing before you started working at TRACC.

Palten: Before I started working here I did not know about TRACC. I only knew Miti (another TRACC staff from Kalapuan). When Miti paid me to make the bottle reef I asked Miti what it was used for. Miti said only to throw it the sea. I was curious about why. At that time I only did what Miti told me to do because of the money. When Miti told me about throwing the bottle reef in the sea I wondered what would happen after with the bottle reefs.

G & L: Now do you know why TRACC puts out the bottle reefs?

P: To effect the fish and because it is beautiful, and with more corals there will be more fish. Because we have planted all the corals there, the fish will have a place to sleep. If it’s just sand the fish will have no place to hide.

G & L: Since working at TRACC How has your view on the ocean and Marine Conservation changed? What have you learned since starting work at TRACC?

P: My view of the sea has changed after doing the conservation work because the people I dive with love the ocean and it’s life. Now, I also have the same view. I love the fish; some of them are so cute. Some people that dive with me, show me really beautiful things that I can see underwater and now I am really interested. I have seen most of them before, but I didn’t care before. Now I appreciate them. The more I see them the more interested I am. Before there were a lot of beautiful things, now I see something that is more beautiful and there are always new beautiful things every time I go diving.


G & L: Why do you think it is important to conserve the marine ecosystem?

There are many beautiful things in the ocean and many fish, this means we can fish them. Without the fish there is no food.


G & L: How would you spread the message of conservation to your family, the village of Kalapuan and the wider Bajau community?

P: I want to take my family diving to show them the beautiful things in the ocean.


G & L: What are your plans for the future?

P: If possible I want to be a Divemaster. To be a Divemaster at TRACC would be good.  What I want to do is show my family, the beautiful things to see underwater, so they can appreciate them, and how the conservation work would make their lives easier.  Now I only tell the stories, when I can take them for a dive its better that they can see themselves.

G & L: If you were not working for TRACC do you think you would go back to blast fishing?


P: If life becomes really hard, I will do whatever I can to support my family. Even bomb fishing. But since I started working at TRACC I do not want to be a fisherman again.


--------------------------------------------------------------

If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail 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.

Palten Part 1 - Former Fisherman to Aspiring Divemaster


Palten comes from the neighboring community of Kalapuan, just a 15-minute boat ride away from Pom Pom Island and TRACC. As a Bajau, he’s always fished and knows so so much about the ocean. At TRACC he’s a general handy man, doing all the things needed to keep camp afloat. He’s great with tools, boats, air compressors, kitchen knives, cement mixers, and just about everything else. He happily shared some of his vast knowledge with Gon and I about fishing and how his view of the ocean has changed since starting work at TRACC
this is part 1.  Read part 2 here-->
_________________________________________________________________________________

Gon and Lark: I understand that fishing is part of the culture of the Bajau people and of Kalapuan. Can you tell me a little about the fishing methods of Kalapuan and your personal history fishing?

Palten: There are 44 ways of line fishing, more than 20 ways of net fishing, 7 ways to spearfish, traps for prawns and lobster, and Sahat traps for mantis shrimp.  There is fishing with bare hands, compressor diving fishing, and bomb fishing.

To catch octopus we make a fake octopus and place it near another octopus and pull towards the surface on a line. The female octopus has small suckers on her arms and the male octopus has large suckers, if the octopus is pregnant it will have a bigger head (because of the eggs in their mantel).

To catch cuttlefish we dive down and look for the eggs. The cuttlefish always lay in the same area and when they deposit their eggs in the coral the adult cuttlefish guard the area for a few days and then disappear. A few days before the eggs hatch many of the adults come back. But very close to hatching the he really big cuttlefish will be near the eggs, this is when we catch the cuttlefish.

When we see a big school of fish we put a big net, maybe 100 meters with a 1000-meter rope, around the whole school and wait for the tide to go down. Then we pull pull pull to make a circle around the fish.

I know all the different ways to fish. I started to fish 15 years ago and now I am 23.

G & L: You mentioned bomb fishing as one of the ways to fish. Why did you use bomb fishing?   

P: If the area is only one or two meters it is ok for using the net so we use the net. If the site is deep and a lot of coral we cannot use the net so we use the bomb. Nets can be used in open sea or sandy places. If we go net fishing and we find a big school of fish but there is a lot of coral in that place, it will destroy the net, so we go back another day with the bomb. 

It is the easiest way to catch fish, because for bomb fishing because you get fish you didn’t see when checking out the place and it does not destroy the net.

G & L: Did you know about the effects of blast fishing at that time?

P: Yes – they break.

G & L: Did you think it was a problem?

P: No I didn’t. The coral is useless for us.

G & L: How did it feel to bomb fish compared with the other methods of fishing like net and line fishing?

P: The fishing depends on the site and the fish. The fishing is all the same.

G & L: When and why did you start working at TRACC?

P: June last year (2015).  When Miti (another member of the TRACC staff from Kalapuan) was building his house he hired me to help him build it. Later, when Miti was making bottle reefs, he hired me to help him make the bottle reefs. When TRACC moved the camp back to Pom Pom Miti introduced me to Dino (another TRACC staff member), who hired me to work a short while at TRACC. After awhile TRACC offered me a permanent job.

I am staying here to work for TRACC because it is more fun then fishing and close to Kalapuan. Before I worked in Kota Kinabalu with construction, and at a car wash. I didn’t like it because it was too far from my village. It’s hard to work in Kota Kinabalu as a Bajau and its far away from home.

G & L: Do you feel connected to the ocean?

P: I like to see the marine life, I can make a living from the ocean, and sometimes there are places that are beautiful. I miss the ocean when I do not see it. When I was in the city, even though I did not fish, I would walk to see the ocean.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Read part 2 of the interview to discover how Palten's view of the ocean has changed since starting to work at TRACC. 

_________________________________________________________________________________


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail 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.

13.4.16

Turtle Hatching on Pom Pom

Photo by Lizz Fitt
Hatchling sea turtles smaller than the palm of my hand, and cute enough to warm even the stormiest of hearts, tumble onto the beach. A line is drawn in the sand to keep spectators at a distance, and the hatchlings scurry down the beach attracted to the ocean by the light of the setting sun.  These tiny turtles are protected from the natural predators of land by our presence and poachers through our nightly turtle walks and eggs collection. Yet, even with our protection, the onset of a sea turtles life is fraught with obstacles and dangers. The short stretch of beach leading to the sea is difficult to navigate, footprints present themselves like craters to the hatchling, some of whom must momentarily rest before they struggle up what must be a mighty staircase to their small selves.

Once reaching the water their weight will reduce and the physical struggles of a creature made for the sea moving on land will
Photo by Lizz Fitt
diminish, but the danger of the ocean and its predators increases– so much so that only 1 in 1000 hatchling turtles will reach sexual maturity. Just offshore ocean predators wait, even from the beach a barracuda is seen lurking in the shallows.

The first task of a hatchling sea turtle is to find a raft of seaweed, which will provide a degree of shelter from harsh ocean conditions, and under which it can hide from predators. This refuge-giving raft also provides the fresh hatchlings a chance to rest and makes it easier for the little turtle to reach the oxygen it needs above the surface of the ocean. If it finds enough cover and has enough luck, baby sea turtles will float with the current in their seaweed raft feeding on smaller crustaceans and fish until the age of 5 or 6 and it is big enough to handle the open ocean. However, even at this adolescent stage the turtles are still small, roughly the size of a dinner plate, and subject to much predation. But if they survive the odds, Sea Turtles instinctively return to the beach on which they hatched when they reach sexual maturity at 35.

Photo by Lizz Fitt
Female turtles lay anywhere between roughly 250 - 700 eggs each of their season, meaning they will produce roughly 4 – 8 offspring throughout their life if they die by old age. For Pom Pom, with our many nesting turtles, and the many nests they lay, we estimate about 2000 eggs are laid each season – and we hope two more turtles from this seasons nesting will return to lay and fertilize eggs and make more hatchlings in 35 years.


We cannot protect out hatchlings from the perils of the ocean, but we can protect the eggs from the danger of poaching, and offer the hatchlings a chance to test their luck and survival in the ocean.



--------------------------------------------------------------

If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail 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.

11.4.16

Micro Marine Protected areas for Semporna

Download the roadmap as a PDF -->here<--
Show your support -->here<--

A Roadmap To Develop A Second Sipadan

The role of Micro Marine Protected Areas as a step towards development of the Semporna Barrier Reef Marine Conservation area


 Sipadan has unique geography and location.
BUT the sharks, turtles, fish and other biodiversity can occur in other places.

With this roadmap, Sabah could have many areas with as much tourism potential as Sipadan.

This project document describes practical steps and actions from many organisations and individuals to help develop sustainable ecotourism and rebuild a healthy ecosystem with reef sharks and breeding fish stocks in the Semporna District. This is a discussion document, please email Info@tracc-borneo.org with information, sightings, suggestions, improvements


Endangered Humphead wrasse -
These are still being eaten!

Table of Contents
Roadmap 2
Step 11 Sites for Micro MPA 6
Appendix I Site characteristics and choices 8
Appendix 2 Monitoring & further work 9


Roadmap

Step 1 The economics
Tourists come to Sipadan to be wowed by amazing fish, sharks and turtles. All tour operators compete for Sipadan permits.
More permits or alternative great dive sites would enable the industry to expand.

Step 2 Why is Sipadan unique?
Primarily because it has been protected and the fish, coral and shark populations are healthy.




There are beautiful reefs in many places around Semporna, but Sipadan has more big fish and the only abundant sharks. This is not Sipadan!








Step 3 What do visitors want to see?
Primary attraction is sharks. The bigger the better. Plus turtles and charismatic big fish such as the humphead wrasse.



Black tip reef sharks populations can recover BUT only if we stop eating them!


Step 4 What works
Langkayan island in SIMCA is a totally protected area North of Sandakan and has shown that reef recovery is possible. To expand diving tourism and create a 2nd Sipadan we need multiple additional areas where shark populations can recover without conflict with existing villagers.

Step 5 What works for ecotourism
In Sabah with many artisanal fishers, only areas with 100% no fishing can create world class ecotourism sites. Small sites with total protection are better than bigger sites with only partial protection.

Step 6 The best protection is ownership



Artificial reefs like this have been built by resorts to attract marine life.

Resorts which are responsible for their own reefs are the best environmental wardens. Many resorts in Semporna have invested money in rebuilding reefs for their guests. At the moment these underwater structures are not legally protected.
 
Step 7 Learn from Forests
The simplest solution to avoid conflict with local residents in the development of Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) is to learn from the terrestrial parks in Sabah:- Mount Kinabalu, Maliau Basin and Danum Valley were chosen because there were few or no people to create conflict as well as for the amazing biodiversity.

Step 8 What works for enforcement
Small protected areas close to ecotourism centres are the easiest to enforce. The house reef from each resort can become a small MPA with enforcement by Honorary Wildlife wardens.

The Darvel Bay reefs are too difficult to patrol and get limited visitors. The NE Semporna Islands, (Mataking, Pandanan, Timba Timba and Pom Pom Island) and the Roach reefs have no village and few fishermen. Mabul and Ligitan have big village communities with many fishermen.



Step 9 Aggregation sites need special protection.
Sites with large populations of fish, sharks, turtles or rays need a localised MPA with regular enforcement and patrols.
  • Sri Amil/Ligitan has unique, WORLD CLASS schools of Mobula Rays, These need focused conservation efforts.
  • Pom Pom Island has a small population of severely endangered Humphead wrasse.
  • Pom Pom Island, Mataking, Pandanan, Timba Timba have large populations of Turtles using the seagrass beds.

    Bumphead parrotfish are a major attraction on Sipadan BUT
    are eaten everywhere else
Step 10 Awareness of existing regulations

Proposed Protection for Endangered Marine life in Semporna

Location
Species
Action
Conservation status
Complete district
Turtles
No hunting/harvest
(National & CITES protection)
Critically endangered
Complete district
Giant clams (Tridacna & Hippopus Spp)
No hunting/harvest
(State wide protection)
Vulnerable (some species very rare)
Complete district
Whale shark
No hunting/harvest
(National & CITES protection)
Vulnerable
Complete district
Humphead wrasse
No hunting/harvest
(CITES protection)
Endangered
Complete district
Bumphead parrotfish
No hunting/harvest
(CITES protection)
Vulnerable
Complete district
Manta & Mobula Rays
No hunting/harvest
(CITES protection)
Threatened to regionally extinct
Complete district
Sharks
No targeted fishing. Bycatch by commercial fishing monitored & regulated
Threatened to regionally extinct
These are works in progress, please email with suggestions to Info@tracc-borneo.org


Aggregation sites for Mobula rays are a National treasure and should be totally protected. 
 






Step 11 Sites for Micro MPA


Proposed Micro MPA for Endangered Marine life in Semporna

Location
Species
MPA size
Enforcement
Roach reef
Black tip reef sharks
Coral reefs
500m long X 250m offshore from reef edge
Easy
Kapalai
Coral reefs
500m long X 250m offshore from reef edge
Limited conflicts
Mataking
Turtles, Big eye trevally, Barracuda
Coral reefs
West side of Mataking Besar X 250m offshore from reef edge
Easy
Pandanan
Turtles, Bumphead parrotfish
Coral reefs
1500m long X 250m offshore from reef edge
Easy
Pom Pom
Turtles, Sharks, Humphead wrasse, Bumphead parrotfish
Barracuda, Coral reefs
West side of Pom Pom X 250m offshore from reef edge
Easy
Timba Timba
Turtles, Bumphead parrotfish
Coral reefs
??
Village conflicts
Mabul
Coral reefs
?? Possibly Paradise 1 to SWV
Village conflicts
Seaventures Oil rig
Coral reefs
250m circle?
Village conflicts
These are works in progress, please email with suggestions to Info@tracc-borneo.org


Schools of jacks give photo opportunities at many locations. These are at Mataking island but there is no protection in Sabah for tourist attractions.


Step 12 Benefits
12a Environmental Benefits
These proposed Micro MPA will increase biodiversity and allow broodstock fish to develop and breed. The larvae from fish and other species will populate many reefs all over the region. The sites which have no villages will also protect a large number of endangered Turtles.
The public awareness program can also show villagers the destruction caused by blast fishing and the reef restoration effort needed to regrow reefs.

12b Economic benefits
For very little economic cost, the Semporna district will have a series of improved dive and snorkel sites that will help grow the numbers of tourists visiting. Protecting sharks and rays makes the most sense, A UMS study showed that dead sharks are worth RM5 million to Sabah while live sharks are worth RM200 million.

This pile of sharks is worth less than $100 US.
Every diver to sabah would pay an additional $100 to be able to dive with sharks!!


12c Relative benefits
The proposed Micro MPA are a very small proportion of the reef area in Semporna. These areas are very small for healthy big fish populations and tiny for shark areas but they represent a goal which could be achieved.

12d Benefits for nearby communities
MPA in other areas have shown that if 20% of a reef is protected then there are increased benefits to the other 80% of the reef because of export of adult and juvenile fish. The locations suggested as primary sites for Micro MPA are all chosen because there is no local village.

12e Equitable benefits
This proposal does not address the multiple user issues on islands with large local villages. Mabul. Kalapuan, Dinawan etc will each need community consultations to achieve different solutions.

Step 13 Administration
Administration of the Semporna Barrier reef Marine Protected Areas will need to be shared between the Private sector (Resorts, Hotels etc), the Government (District office, Wildlife Dept.) and NGO's (WWF, TRACC, Green Semporna Etc)

Reef restoration by TRACC grows coral to
restore reefs destroyed by blast fishing.















Appendix I Site characteristics and choices

Endangered Species Sites Comparisons

Turtles
Humphead
Wrasse
Bumphead
Parrotfish
Giant clams
Sipadan
Abundant
Common
Few
Common
Roach reef
Rare ??
Rare ??
Rare ??
??
Kapalai
Rare
Rare
Rare
Rare
Ligitan/Sri Amil
??
??
??
??
Mataking
Abundant
Rare
Rare
Rare
Pom Pom Island
Abundant
Common
Common
Common
Pandanan
Abundant
Rare
Rare
Rare
Other sites
Few
None
None
occasional





These are works in progress, please email with suggestions to Info@tracc-borneo.org



Reef Shark Sites Comparisons

Grey reef
shark
White tip
reef shark
Black tip
reef shark
Coral Cat
sharks
Sipadan
Few
Abundant
Few
Rarely seen
Roach reef
??
??
Common
??
Ligitan
??
??
??
??
Pom Pom Island
Rare
None
None
Common
Other sites
None
None
None
occasional
These are works in progress, please email with suggestions to Info@tracc-borneo.org



Appendix 2 Monitoring & further work


The monitoring tasks will change as the reefs start to recover but the following is a summary of the scope of work required to create a Marine Protected Area. Much of this information is available.

  • Biodiversity surveys to identify what species are present in the area.
  • GIS based Habitat survey to map the resources and identify where they are.
  • Identify priority areas and tasks for conservation.
  • Baseline surveys using standardised techniques for monitoring of critical near shore habitats, including mangrove, sea grass and reef communities.
  • Development of a management plan.
  • Conduct surveys for Sharks, Turtles, Sea Birds, giant clams, sea cucumber, Fish & Coral
  • Replant coral onto damaged reefs. Develop reef restoration techniques and assess effectiveness.
  • Clear the beaches of debris to encourage turtle nesting.
  • Monitor and record all instances of nesting and egg laying, turtles, birds, fish, coral etc.
  • Liase with the Wildlife dept. to remove introduced species such as cats to encourage the return of the sea bird populations.
  • Work with Wildlife, UMS, Fisheries and others to determine which rare species have been
  • removed from the island and determine if re-introductions of rare species is appropriate.
  • Improve awareness of the rich biodiversity within the MPA by taking photos, video and publishing these.
  • Write regular Internet, Blog, newspaper and magazine articles
  • Liase with ESSCOM, PGA and wildlife rangers to monitor violations of the MPA.
  • Conduct regular assessments of the effectiveness of the marine protected area.
  • Work with academic institutions to host Train the Trainers courses for future teachers, lecturers and academic mentors.
  • Mentor all volunteers, students and visitors to be environmental ambassadors for marine conservation.
Copyright @ TRACC Borneo Volunteers. Blog Design by KotrynaBassDesign