Informing EDGE: Awareness and Analysis
A fisher conducting an underwater survey.
by Gregorio E. dela Rosa Jr., Biologist
After a few days and a minor jetlag upon my arrival here in the Philippines from my training in London, I immediately scheduled a trip back to Burdeos for the Science Week celebration of the Burdeos National High School.
On our first day, I presented to the students the current state of the coral reefs of Burdeos and reasons why they declined. I also informed them about the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) Coral project funded by the Zoological Society of London. After the short presentation, underwater video clips taken from the underwater survey, conducted last year, were shown. The purpose of this video presentation was to explain and confirm the changes in live coral cover and the number of fishes since 2006 up to this time.
Biologist Dela Rosa explaining his focus on the Mushroom coral.
Part of the celebration was the Make Your Own Diorama Contest. There was actually a mishmash of what the coral reefs should look like. The students’ version has a resort with it; all have bright splashes of colors all competing for attention. Others were hastily put-together representations, similar to an abstract, but diorama version. These dioramas still has that “sea” scent, and true enough; items on the dioramas were just collected days before the “judgment day”.
Happening simultaneously with the Science Week celebration, I was also assisting the situational analysis of Barangays Amot and Aluyon for another project that is Mainstreaming Gender in Integrated Coastal Management, funded by the Philippine-Australian Community Assistance Program (PACAP). Once in a while, I would leave the school, and do my PACAP project duties, which is to present the results of the EDGE Coral underwater, perception, and underwater surveys to the representatives of the two barangays who will use these tools.
Awareness raising with Burdeos High School students.
After the presentations and inputs, we divided the team into groups – who’ll conduct the survey and the tool to be used for that particular survey. I gave an orientation to a group of fishers who will be conducting the participatory coral reef survey composed of six persons, three from each barangay. The next day we conducted the survey in three sites. We started out on a practice survey so they will be able to familiarize themselves on the tools, and boost self confidence.
After the activity, we went back to the venue to wash up, and started to prepare our data for presentation. I found my team slowly nodding after twenty minutes. They told me that it was their first time to swim after a very long time; before, they just sit in the boat, and wait for a fish to be caught. Few of the fishers finished their data and presentation. We managed to use local names to represent the different species and the local names for coral, algae and silt.
Fast forward to the Burdeos National High School. I was asked to hand out the prizes to the winners of the quiz bee and the diorama contests on the last day of the Science Week celebration. Haribon, through the EDGE Coral project, also donated educational materials to the top three student groups who won the diorama contest.
All this happened in just five days!