Recently in Reserves Category

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Seacology is funding the construction of a new community center in Banjar Anyar, a small village on Indonesia's island of Bali. Part of the agreement is that the good pepole of Banjar Anyar continue to serve as the guardians of the surrounding Batukahu Forest.

So what kinds of creatures are being protected? Here's a quick tour of some of Batukahu Forest's residents:

The forest cat has big eyes and is very ferocious, while the long-tailed macaque looks a little sad, but their babies are adorable.

Meanwhile, the pangolin looks a lot like an armadillo, and the flying fox (AKA the kalong) is not a fox at all, but instead a rather large bat.

Seacology and Sylvia Earle

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12% of America's land is protected by our government. But how much of the world's oceans, which cover 75% of our planet, are under similar protections? An astounding .08%--not even 1%!

This was one of the many fascinating subjects discussed at a reception this week with Seacology and Dr. Sylvia Earle, a leading oceanographer and member of our Scientific Advisory Board, to discuss the state of the world's oceans. Seacology Fellow Lezlie Johnson hosted a private reception in her Los Angeles home, and guests heard from Seacology Executive Director Duane Silverstein, who described how Seacology is contributing to Dr. Earle's vision of a global network of marine protected areas. 

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During her presentation, Dr. Earle summarized her career as an explorer of the oceans--from her experience in the first all-female aquanaut expedition, to her 1250 foot dive in a JIM suit, the deepest dive by any woman. Since winning the TED Prize in 2009, Dr. Earle has been a leading advocate of ocean conservation. At Seacology's reception, she shared again her TED wish:

"I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- films! expeditions! the web! more! -- to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet." - Sylvia Earle

Seacology's island conservation projects are working towards Dr. Earle's vision of a global network protecting our oceans and their species. Our latest projects include three new marine conservation areas, in the Philippines, Mexico, and Fiji.

Conservationists and snorkeling fans alike will be excited at one of the newest marine reserves--Lundy Island, off the southwest coast of Great Britain, is now recognized as the UK's first official marine conservation zone. Dubbed "Britain's Galapagos" for the rich marine life it shelters, the island was privately owned until 1969, when it became part of the National Trust. Although it has been a protected location since then, it recently became the first protected marine area under Britain's new Marine and Coastal Access Act. With this new legislation, Britain hopes to increase protection of marine wildlife and habitat. Like oceans around the world, the waters around Britain currently face a major overfishing crisis, with many of the native fish stocks severely threatened. As the government and national conservation groups work to reverse this trend before it is too late, reserves such as the one on Lundy Island are critical to restoring natural balance in Britain's marine ecosystems. 

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According to the Lonely Planet guide, "Among the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles are some of the most beautiful island getaways in the Indian Ocean, or indeed the world. Here you can find the lush tropical paradise you may have seen in seductive advertisements." The group of islands around Mahe (home of the international airport and the capital city of Victoria) are made of granite while the remaining islands are coralline atolls. The Seychelles lie 1,600 kilometers off of East Africa, its nearest neighbor. As a result of this isolation the Seychelles are rich in rare plants which flourish nowhere else on the planet. Perhaps the most famous of these is the coco de mer, the world's largest coconut weighing as much as 20 kg. In addition to their prodigious size the coco de mer is famous for its rather erotic shape (pictured right). I will let readers' imaginations run wild on this but if you want to see this coconut in person head for the beautiful Vallee de Mai on the island of Praslin. I recently led a Seacology group to visit the Seychelles and some of us are still blushing after seeing these rather evocative coconuts. The Seychelles visitors bureau knows a good thing when it sees one and the coco de mer not only appears on posters and brochures everywhere but the Seychelles official passport stamp is in the shape of this naughty coconut.

After three days of sitting out the typhoon during my recent trip to the Philippines, our Philippines Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo and I flew to the beautiful island of Palawan.

philmap.gifAfter overnighting in Roxas, Ferdie and I met with representatives from project partner SIBAT and drove to Barangay Bagong Bayan. This remote village has a true "ridge to reef" ecosystem. With SIBAT's expertise, Seacology is funding the rehabilitation of a micro-hydro power plant. After meeting with community leaders, we viewed the non-functioning powerhouse. There is a nearby ice plant, which when powered will make a dramatic difference to local fisherman who will be able to chill their catches to keep fish fresh longer for marketability. The power plant also has an herb dryer, which when functional will enable community members to dry medicinal herbs to sell.


Bagong Bayan watershed.jpgThe Bangong Bayan watershed (right) is truly beautiful. The source for the microhydro system is above a lovely waterfall. The catchment at the top was not configured to maximize flow, so community members are working on that while they wait for generator parts to arrive. After staying back in Roxas for a night, Ferdie and I traveled to El Nido, on the northern tip of Palawan. I had heard for years about the beauty of this area, and stunning Bacuit Bay with its dramatic limestone islands and turquoise water.

Report from the Philippines

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I recently returned from the Philippines, where I visited a total of five Seacology projects with our Philippines Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo.  Sadly, we missed one site visit - to the ram pump project and forest protection project at the Municipality of Murcia, Negros Occidental.  This was due to Typhoon Fengshun, which started as a tropical depression east of the islands then intensified.  It was the first time I had experienced the power of these storms that batter the Philippines so frequently.  My hotel in Manila never lost power, and it was strange to see coverage on cable TV of the wildfires ravaging parts of California while the Philippines was hit so hard by high winds and relentless rains. 

Our first site visit was to the community of San Pedro, on Biri Island in Samar Province.  Seacology has funded the construction of a community-managed medical dispensary in exchange for a 25-acre marine reserve, to be protected for a duration of 20 years. 

The community is accessible only by boat, and we we fortunate to visit during the barangay (community) fiesta.  The small dispensary is situated on the barangay's plaza, right next to the day care.  The structure is nearly complete; wiring will be completed soon. 

san_pedro.jpgShown in the photo is Jhoanne Culo of our local partner project organization Center for Empowerment and Resource Development, Inc. (second from left) and Seacology Philippines Field Representative Ferdie Marcelo (third from left), flanked by two local women who will serve as health care workers once the dispensary opens.  The community is respecting the marine protected area, where we snorkeled to observe the regenerating marine life.

Our second site visit was to Barangay Manamoc, Northern Palawan.  This village has a population of 1,900.  With the assistance of Seacology Germany, Seacology has funded a solar energy system to provide power to the community's schools, barangay hall and medical clinic in exchange for an agreement to protect a 267-acre marine area.

I've been at Seacology for nine years now (I was the first paid employee, beating Executive Director Duane Silverstein by around a week). Each time a board meeting comes and passes, I'm astounded at both how time flies, as well as how we have grown as an organization. At their June 9 meeting, Seacology's board of directors approved seven new projects, bringing our total number of projects to 176. Moreover, a really cool milestone has been reached - Seacology now has projects on 100 islands in 44 countries throughout the world.

Wow.

wasini_kids.jpgFollowing are short descriptions of the projects passed by Seacology's board of directors at their June 9 meeting. You can find full descriptions on our website.

AMERICAN SAMOA, Pago Pago Village, Tutuila Island - Phase 3: Eradicate the dense stands of the destructive Falcataria moluccana tree adjacent to the National Park areas of American Samoa (NPSA). *

Left: Children on the mangrove walkway, Wasini Island, Kenya.