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

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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


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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.