BioN-TT scholarship students visit Bangka Island for field workshop

Last week, a group of lecturers and students from Sam Ratulangi University (UNSRAT) in Manado visited Bangka Island to carry out some field work. Three of the Indonesian students are recipients of our BioN-TT scholarships which are funded by Coral Eye Resort. They were joined by Christian Lott and Miriam Weber who are currently at Coral Eye carrying out research on biodegradable plastics.

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The aim of the workshop was to sample porewater, sediment and plastic from the beach within the mangroves for the student projects MICROPLA I and NASYPOLY I. After arrival, the UNSRAT team were given a presentation and received an introduction to the field laboratory before heading to the beach within the mangroves. Students were treated to a lunch wrapped in banana leaves demonstrating the use of plastic free alternatives. Feeling refreshed, they went to the sampling sites and Christian and Miriam explained sampling methods such as porewater sampling with syringes, sediment coring, and „natural plastic“.

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The team spent the afternoon collecting enough samples to allow them to study the microbial community growing in the sediment and on the plastic. The team, along with Christian and Miriam, will meet again at UNSRAT next week to start analyzing the samples and continuing the two student projects MICROPLA I and NASYPOLY I.

Supporting scientific research of this nature is a fundamental part of our approach. Understanding the scale and nature of the plastic problem is vital if we are to tackle the issue in the best manner. We look forward to seeing the results of the students’ work.

New education program with Seasoldier

We have partnered with the Indonesian NGO Seasoldier, to launch an innovative education program that is teaching junior high school students on Bangka Island, North Sulawesi about the environment surrounding them and the importance of looking after our oceans. The program is covering topics such as the coral reef, mangroves and sea grass beds, and will take students out of the classroom to experience these ecosystems.

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The program been designed with the local community to ensure that it’s relevant and interesting for the students, and the lessons will be delivered by local representatives from Seasoldier. Participants will receive a certificate at the end of the program to support their applications for further training after school. All participants will become ambassadors of the ocean and some might even become the next generation of marine biologists!

“This program is very important in helping our students realise how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place and that they must help look after it so that it survives into the future,” says Mr Jodi Umboh, principal of the local junior high school.

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The education program has been developed as part of No-Trash Triangle Initiative’s efforts to create a waste management and community engagement program that can be replicated on other islands. Once the new educational program has been completed in December 2019, the Initiative will work with Seasoldier to make sure that it can be replicated on other small islands around the Coral Triangle, adapting it according to local needs.

“Creative education is a key part of the sustainable and replicable model we are developing together,” says one of the founders of the Initiative. “If the younger generation understands their environment, the impact their actions have and the possible solutions there are, they become a crucial part in implementing these solutions and fighting plastic pollution.”

Plastic girl in a plastic world

Julie and Molly were feeling so inspired by all the trash they picked up during their time here that they decided to create a plastic themed music video. Instruments were made using marine debris with a little help from the local kids.

Getting kids involved in beach clean ups only works if you can make it fun. Creating a oceanic orchestra is the perfect way to keep them engaged! Feel free to share this video to keep spreading the word.

With laughs and pipefish, scientists and students share reef knowledge

For a few hours on March 11, the dining area of Coral Eye — a marine research outpost and resort — became a mini-aquarium, the big wooden table dotted with tanks and buckets of colorful sea slugs, starfish and one bewildered pipefish.

Taking advantage of the quiet period before guests fill up the resort, Coral Eye invited local students to learn about the treasures lying just a few meters offshore: Bangka Island’s thriving coral reef. Scientists, Christian Lott and Miriam Weber from HYDRA, who are staying at Coral Eye while conducting research on biodegradable plastics offered to help for the day.

The lesson began by drawing a reef piece-by-piece on a big chalkboard, explaining the complex relationships between the reef’s inhabitants, and how humans can help or hurt.

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The students debated the question: Are corals plants or animals (turns out, they’re both), and helped Christian brush up on the Indonesian names for creatures like cuttlefish and crabs. Afterwards, Miriam asked the students to study the animals in the tanks, and figure out how they might eat, move and perceive their environments. The day wrapped up with a snorkel on Coral Eye house reef, before the students loaded into boats to head home.


For Miriam, the highlight was sharing “astonishing things about creatures in the ocean,” like free-living corals that can use their tentacles to walk around. “You see in their faces that they think: Wow, that’s really interesting and amazing, and it’s right in front of our door,” she said. 

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Miriam and Christian were joined by young ocean activists from Seasoldier, an organization founded by the 2005 Miss Indonesia and dedicated to protecting the country’s ocean habitats through activities like educational field trips, beach clean-ups and reef restoration. The Soldiers translated for the biologists — with plenty of jokes along the way — and helped the students study the animals in the tanks and under microscopes. 

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This was not a one-off event: Seasoldier, Christian, Miriam and other members of the No-Trash Triangle team were so happy with how the day went that they agreed to future collaborations. The group is now creating a marine education curriculum for local students, which Seasoldier will teach. These lesson plans will fill some big gaps: most Indonesian kids get little to no schooling in marine science or plastic pollution, despite living in a global hotspot for both ocean biodiversity and plastic waste. 

“This collaboration, for us, is why this day was really important,” said Anna Clerici, the coordinator of the No-Trash Triangle Initiative and manager of Coral Eye. 

As for the pipefish, the tiny striped ambassador was released back where it was captured on the reef, along with the other creatures collected for the tanks. The pipefish zipped off into the depths, no doubt relieved that class was over for the day. 

Written by Allison Guy

Not for nothing

Efforts made by volunteers, kids and guests, haven’t been for nothing.

Dirty hands, back pain, sun burned skin, haven’t been for nothing.

Counting bags, weighting bags, carrying bags, haven’t been for nothing.


We shaken hands on it and now it’s official:

CV. Daur Sinar Gemilang (one of sister company of Megamas Group in Manado) agreed to take care of Bangka Island’s sorted trash!!!!!!!!!

The first time I met Amelia, I expected a formal meeting in a coffee shop in Manado but it turned out to be a completely informal appointment, at her place, just before she had Sunday lunch with her family. She spoke with me about her new company that just started in June 2018; they have been collecting plastic bottles, aluminium, paper and packaging boxes from hotels, restaurants, banks and many other office building in Manado.

I then invited her to our island, to have a look at our sorting station and to better explain her the initiative: how did it start, who is involved and what is our goal. It turned out that we have similar project ideas for the future, and hopefully this is just a start of a great collaboration!

We fixed the first pick-up of sorted recyclable material (together with other resorts on Bangka, nearly 250 bags of 60liter each!) and she kept the promise:

The 13th of November a truck collected everything and on 14th November the first pressed plastic batch was sent to Jakarta!




Corals are animals!!

 

When the kids arrived from Lihunu Village for the usual Beach Clean-up Day, we asked a simple question: “Why are students from Italy and Hong Kong on Bangka Island to study corals???” (As every year, Coral Eye Resort hosted the Reef Check Italia workshop) Asking so, we explained them the meaning of “No-Trash Triangle” with the “triangle” in question being not related to geometry but to an area named “Coral Triangle” that harbors the highest marine biodiversity in the world.

Coral reefs provide home and nursery grounds to many fish species, so we need to protect them and preserve them for example avoiding to step on them and (of course) polluting the sea with plastic.

There were a bit of uncertainties related to what corals are (rocks? plants? animals?) so we ended up with a song to dispel any doubt, and then jumped in the water for a joint snorkeling with Reef Check students!

“Would you step on a cat, no you wouldn’t do that!

Would you step on a dog, no it would be wrong!

So please, don’t step on me!

I maybe look like a rock, 

but I’m certainly not! 

I am an animal, I am a living thing,

Don’t you see the beauty and the joy that I bring?!

So please don’t step on me!”

 

BioN-TT: Let's start with Jasmine and Nico!

 

“Within the “BIO No-Trash Triangle Initiative” program, we will have a synoptic overview of the marine plastic problem in this region covering all coastal habitats and levels of the food web. We need to understand the problem in depth and we have to stop it at the source!“ said Marco Segre - owner of Coral Eye Resort and marine biologist himself.

Since he opened Coral Eye in 2011, he has offered 6 scholarship per year to students whose projects relate to the tropical marine environment, but from now on he will give priority to the ones dedicated to the impact of plastic on the marine environment.

And here they are! Jasmin Müller and Nico Bill from Oldenburg/Germany - guided by Prof. Peter Schupp - will stay for two months on Bangka Island to study the distribution and impact of plastic waste on the coastal ecosystems in the area. They will conduct a baseline analysis of plastic waste on the beach and in the adjacent reef and investigating the impact of plastic on coral and fish.

Welcome guys!

 

Beach cleaning & fried banana eating

 

I still don’t know if my expectations are always low or if simply things that happen are just great!

Even if I agreed with Mr Jody to bring only 15 kids for the beach cleaning (no more, because with don’t want to interfere too much in the guests life at the resort), at 8.30 in the morning 37 kids pop up and took place in Coral Eye beach, followed by Mr.Jody’s wide smile.

We prepared a quiz to understand the level of knowledge on the plastic topic and then divided the kids in three groups: for a couple of hours we worked hard all together, collecting, sorting and cleaning trash.

“Pisang goreng” (fried banana) at the end and a jump in the water…what else?


 

Mr. Jody says YES

 

I called Mr.Jody (Head Master of Junior High School of Lihunu Village) not knowing how he would react to my question: “Can I visit you and your students in the next days and maybe ask you to help us cleaning the beach and sorting the plastic? “ I really thought it would be less easy: he was simply enthusiastic, and the next days I walked with Elmar from Coral Eye to the school - an half hour walk in the jungle - without neither a clear idea on what to tell them, but we made a deal: two Saturdays per month 15 students will join Coral Eye beach cleaning and will learn how and especially why to sort the trash.

Mr. Jody told me they already have a “cleaning program” at the school, so basically once a while they camp on a beach, collect the plastic and then…make a fire. I’ve figured a bonfire of plastic with all the kids around, and I shyly ask him: “Do you know that burning plastic generates toxic fumes?” He had no idea.

 

We believe in the next generation!

 

The new school year started with a presentation on plastic in the environment at the Lothar-von-Kübel middle school in Sinzheim, Germany. 450 very interested pupils and their parents followed marine biologist Dr. Miriam Weber's talk about her experiences related to plastic pollution in the sea. It’s not just a problem for the animals living in the ocean but also for humans.

Causes, effects and solution were discussed: No-Trash Triangle as lighthouse project!


 

Plastic detectives

 

Grade 1, 2 and 3 school children from Lihunu became plastic detectives at a special Saturday school event this week. They investigated beach sand samples for microplastic under the microscope, studied live animals such as sea anemones, soft corals, hard corals, clams, worms, crabs, starfish and sea squirts in aquaria, and learned about how plastic is entering the marine foodweb.

We took the kids on a walk through the village to the beach and during the expedition, the kids had to solve the case of a clownfish who became ill and eventually died from having eaten too much plastic.

At the beach, the plastic detectives collected plastic samples, analyzed this “evidence” as well as pictures taken during the walk, and then reflected about their own contribution to the problem of plastic litter in the ocean.
The event was conducted with the help of scientists from HYDRA, Suara Pulau Foundation and CoralEye, who provided aquaria, microscopes and transport.

Our biggest „THANK YOU“ goes to the kids that made this day a very special one with their enthusiasm and their dedication. Terima kasih banyak!