Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Leaving Pom Pom's Paradise

24 hours after waving goodbye to the glittery people and waters of Pom Pom Island and already I miss the ocean, the life, the people. Yes the short stint of air conditioning has healed the majority of my cuts, I’ve slept well pass the natural alarm clock marked by the end of fan time at 7:30AM, and have indulged in the luxury of restaurant quality food and choice. Yet, the lack of modern convenience, insect bites and salty showers is a tax I am more than willing to pay for the life of freedom, community, and awesome access to the ocean TRACC provides.

The short list of what my time on Pom Pom has meant to me is long. It includes– the faces of people laughing underwater – the bright blue gradients of ocean extending from the shore – grabbing a tank and diving at sunrise – feeling weightless – flooding my mask because I can stop smiling – eating bananas underwater – noticing something new about the ocean everyday – excited underwater screams – getting to know the resident creatures of the house reef – collecting and planting soft coral and hard coral, even when the current rips, it storms, and bringing baskets up and down is a chore – peanut butter kaya cracker time – underwater hammering – watching the artificial reef I have helped to build become populated with life – sand everywhere – feeling too hot – the freedom to engineer my own projects – holes in all of my perpetually dirty clothes – jetty time – tanned legs – wonderfully calloused and beat up feet – the stars – the bioluminescence – night diving and the whole other ocean scene that is illuminated under torch light – new favorite ocean creatures – hammock time – waking up to the sound of rain on my tent – learning something new so naturally everyday – the ragged pages of the ocean creatures book – big boat days – jumping off the jetty at Timba Timba – Rasma’s pumpkin curry – Lizz’s cakes – Gon’s roti – turtle walks – moon shadows – Sunday Fundays – Monday Dry Days (sometimes) – getting to know people I wouldn’t otherwise  – how the sun hits the water in the evening and the morning to give the surface a metallic sheen – beams of light breaking through the oceans surface – falling to the ocean floor from laughter – card games during safety stops – being directly involved in marine conservation –150 plus hours of accumulated underwater time – the community – the freedom to dive all the time – and being surrounded by passion and care for the ocean.

But most of all…. The People. The Diving. The Ocean.

Big love to all the many who made my time at TRACC what it was and all the enthusiasm and care for the ocean world.


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

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.






Monday, 13 June 2016

Rescue and release of Lobsters 2016

Lobsters and reef crabs are an important part of the coral reef ecosystem.  Unfortunately large crustaceans taste good to people and the reef population is much smaller than it should be.  To help balance the eco system it is important that we have as much biodiversity as possible.  The role of lobsters in the ecology of a damaged reef is not well known but as major predators they clearly affect a wide range of prey, from starfish and clams to other crustaceans.

Moving rescued lobsters back to the reef


There were a few lobsters on the island (surveys to 2016 counted 4 at 3 different places),  this lobster release should increase the breeding population with dispersal of larvae over long distances.
Unfortunately lobster biology is complex,  larval lobsters live in the plankton for many months and so the lobster parent reef can be many thousands of kilometres from the reef where the juveniles settle. 

TRACC negotiated with a commercial lobster farm and managed to buy 12 lobsters for wholesale price.
 
Long life on the reef rather than a quick boiling in a saucepan.







The lobsters were moved to Pom Pom and released close to the lobster reefs and the deep tyre reefs.
 
The lobster release story
Coral cat shark rescue 2013    --    Cat sharks 2015
Humphead wrasse  rescue (2013)  -   HHW survey 2016 
--------------------------------------------


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 for coral. shark or lobster rescue programmes.  Please follow the TRACC marine conservation projects on Facebook.



Making lobster reefs

A lobster reef  mould filled with wet cement in ways to create
tunnels caves and crevices
The mould is filled with wet cement and tunnels are made from sand bags and cardboard tubes which will be removed when the cement is set several days later.

see making corfu reef













Taking out the tubes to create tunnels

Turtle reef making - a fish life condominium,
Creating Lobster reefs - deep water apartments
Coral growth on bottle reefs


==============================

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.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Turtle and Lobster artificial reefs

TRACC staff and volunteers have developed the technology to make some larger artificial reefs. These add to our arsenel of techniques to repair reefs damaged by blast fishing.   See a blasted reef here,

See our crate reefs, ribbon reef and bottle reefs here.   The new reefs make an immediate difference to the marine life and we hope the larger structures will attract larger fish species.

The turtle and lobster reefs are comparable to reefballs (a patented technology) but they are a lot simpler and cheaper to make by poor village commuities.

Links here
Turtle reef making - a fish life condominium,
Creating Lobster reefs - deep water apartments
Coral growth on bottle reefs

Part 1 A photo guide to Making a Turtle reef,

The basic turtle shape is covered with mesh for strength

The first layer of cement has moulds attached



The moulds will create holes and openings in the finished reef



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.

Lobster reefs

TRACC makes several types of CORFU reefs which are larger and stronger than the ribbon reef bottle reefs.  The Turtle reefs are mostly hollow and make suitable reefs for schools of fish.  The lobster reefs are very complex internally and have lots of tunnels and passageways,  These are ideal for lobsters, crabs and octopus,

making lobster reefs

first views of lobster reefs before the coral is planted.

rescue and introduction of lobsters to Pom Pom island.
Turtle reef making - a fish life condominium,
Creating Lobster reefs - deep water apartments
Coral growth on bottle reefs



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


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.

New turtle reefs on the reef crest

The turtle and lobster reefs add to the range of reefs that TRACC builds to repair damaged reef evironments.
More info on reef construction here.

These CORFU (coral reef foundation units) are larger and stronger than the ribbon reef bottle reefs or the bottle clusters and are designed to with stand the waves in the shallowest part of the reef.  These reefs serve the same function as reef balls but they are much more suitable for community reef projects being both lighter and cheaper.  TRACC makes 2 types of CORFU reefs, Lobster reefs and turtle reefs

Turtle reefs shortly after positioning



Turtle reef making - a fish life condominium,
Creating Lobster reefs - deep water apartments
Coral growth on bottle reefs



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


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.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Beauty of the Deep - Diving in the Ocean Currents of North Tip

Juvenile bat fish,
Photo By Basil Bohn
I’m floating weightlessly in the murky blue. Below lies unfathomable depth and the tantalizing mystery of the unknown; above the faint glimmer of light I know to be the sun. Behind, the wall grounds me in the weird, wonderful, and still wild world of the ocean. At Pom Pom Island on the Eastern Side of Borneo, I’m scuba diving and drifting with the ocean current at North Tip.

Here at the Tropical Research and Conservation Center, where I am a Divemaster in training and a marine conservation volunteer, I always have ample opportunity to abscond from the restrictions of gravity and meditate in the blue. Yet, today the beauty and the peace of the deep feels forever more intense.

I twirl 180 degrees with a grace only available in the water and I greet the face of the wall. A rainbow spectrum of color and motion enlightens my senses as the living, moving landscape slowly passes by. Meters of soft coral, usually erect in broccoli-esque trees, drape from the overhang in a vast yellow curtain. Black, purple, and white, sea fans reach into the ocean like starched sheets of capillaries, purposefully protruding to catch the full force of the current and the plankton that will be their meal. Soft sea whips, taller than me, curled, fuzzy, and virtually colorless, extend into the ocean, a stark and awesome vision of light reaching into dark. Upon slight ascent, a new vision appears; massive plates of hard corals in a multiplicity of shapes and colors, some like mushroom caps, others that appear to pulsate in psychedelic colors tessellate with peachy brain corals with divots that can be followed like a maze. This cacophony of beauty expands my body and spirit with elation.

Bubble coral shrimp
Photo by Markus Mende

I take a moment to gently fin against the current and explore the realm of tiny creatures living in the caves and crevices created by corals. A symphony of shrimps and crabs seemingly crafted of glass and porcelain with transparent bodies or perfect pink, green, and blue veneer hide beneath. Others who wiggle their orange and white spotted humped back in a twerking movement to rival Miley Cyrus nestle into their anemone homes in harmony with their neighboring anemone fish. Nearby, soft bunches of bubble coral hide furry orangutan crabs. Rising further I float over the algae crusted coral rubble, still enjoying the sensation of flying diving allows, while the tiny heads of jawfish with devilish glowing orange eyes retreat from my shadow into their ocean floor holes.


Christmas tree worm
Today I never want to leave the ocean, but I am human and my limitations are real. Yet, as I look up to ascend more beauty welcomes as geometric slivers of a deep and golden orange setting sun breaks through the water. Upon surfacing, a rosy horizon and the silver sheen of a setting sun scintillating on the ocean greets me. I am still in the most beautiful place on earth.


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


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.