Local Eyes on the Reef in the Coral Triangle
By Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund
In crystal blue water ten meters below the surface, Lius Kabes flashes a thumbs up, pulls out his clipboard and underwater paper, and fins off to count the schools of colorful fish ahead. Behind him, Misel Marine and Fredrik Sarwa carefully roll out 50 meters of measuring tape and mark off areas of the reef to assess reef habitat and any signs of coral bleaching. After only four days of training, there are new ‘eyes on the reef’ in the heart of coral reef biodiversity in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
In February 2016, scientists from World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International and Universitas Papua developed a unique hands-on training in underwater science for local dive guides and students who live and work in the Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area Network. Together our goal was to empower local stakeholders with scientific knowledge and capacity to monitor their coral reefs.
Supported by the Raja Ampat Research and Conservation Centre, seven trainees – that included Lius, Misel and Fredrik – learned about reef ecology, threats to their reefs, and methods for scientific monitoring. On day one, some were painfully shy, desperately avoiding eye contact. With the encouragement and instruction by Indonesian scientists, they were soon confident experts underwater – recording fish species and sizes, coral assemblages and on the lookout for coral bleaching. Underwater science was as second nature as finding the nearest pygmy seahorse or showing us the local wobbeggong sharks.
Raja Ampat is one the of the last frontiers for the rich —> Read More