May 29, 2011

New EcoDiver Training in Philippines

New EcoDivers show off their hand signals!
Photo credit: Rivka Nagtalon

Submitted by Nino Jacinto, Reef Check Philippines

Congratulations to the EcoDivers who completed the EcoDiver training course on February 6, 2011! The course was conducted over a 2-week period. It consisted of 4 classroom sessions held after office hours, 1 pool session in Metro Manila, and culminated with 2 days of field work in Anilao, Batangas, Philippines.

The photo shows the EcoDivers displaying the hand signals used underwater by Reef Check for identifying the substrate. It turns out that the hand signals are good for photo ops too!

In March 2011, EcoDiver training was also conducted for 6 partners of Conservation International – Philippines (CIP). Three partners were from the Local Government of Occidental Mindoro in the Philippines and the other three were university partners of CIP. The group was joined by 2 trainees from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute.

Dr. Wilfredo Licuana, EcoDiver Course Director of Reef Check Philippines, and Ms. Carina Escudero, Reef Check EcoDiver Trainer, conducted the training. The training venue was the Brother Alfred Shields Marine Station of De La Salle University in Sitio Matuod, Lian, Batangas.

In addition, students from the 10th grade of the International School Manila went on an Ecology Field Trip to De La Salle University’s Brother Alfred Shields Marine Station in Sitio Matuod, Lian, Batangas, Philippines earlier this year. The 46 students were divided into 2 groups and each group stayed one night in the Marine Station.

On the field trip, the Reef Check Survey method was discussed and how it assists in monitoring impacts of human activities such as overfishing for food or for the aquarium trade, and destructive fishing practices on coral reefs and marine life.

The field trip participants learned how to identify certain species of fish and invertebrates. They also learned how to differentiate between hard and soft coral. For example, they learned that coral are colonies of thousands of tiny animals. Hard corals have tentacles that come in multiples of 6, while soft corals have multiples of 8 tentacles.

The first batch of students donned their snorkeling gear and did a Reef Check survey of the coral reef. The next morning, it was raining a bit, so the water was not as clear. Instead of snorkeling, the second batch of trainees explored mangrove forests and seagrass beds located nearby.

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Students from International School Manila go Eco-Snorkeling; photo credit: Nino Jacinto Second Batch of EcoDivers for 2011; Photo credit: Carina Escudero