Baby mangroves!

 
IMG_20190907_112231.jpg

Hallo everybody,

I'm Gabriele, currently helping the No-Trash Triangle Initiative. Let me tell you about the beautiful experience I had the luck to participate in yesterday: a field trip with the local junior high school kids to the mangrove forest!

The event is a part of the education project whose aim is to teach the kids about the key environments they are surrounded by. In order to better send our message the Initiative organised a cooperation with the Seasoldiers, a local NGO composed by dynamic and brilliant people very passionate about the ocean and its preservation.

After a quick breakfast at Coraleye outpost I crossed the Island to reach a small house on the beach of Lihunu. It was a beautiful wooden shack right by the sea with a tent right next to it. Is here where this group of very interesting young people, Seasoldiers volunteers, had spent the night. After some quick introduction we immediately got to work. For starters we went down by the beach to collect plastic bottles, which are unfortunately quite easy to find. After having collected a few bags of them we brought them back to the shack where we cut them in half, and we poke a few holes in the bottom part in order to make little pots for our baby mangroves.

IMG_20190907_093837.jpg

Around nine a.m. screams and noises coming from the jungle announced to us that the kids were on their way. There were about twenty of them, aged between 13 and 15, all wearing the school uniform.

We had a round of introductions and then the Seasoldiers began asking questions about mangroves to the kids, who had already been instructed on the topic in previous lessons.

IMG_20190907_093150.jpg

After having checked the preparation of the students, while some of us were finishing to prepare all the materials, a couple of volunteers organised a few group games to keep the kids entertained.

Finally we were set and ready to go! Each kid was given a pair of gloves, we loaded a few bags of muddy earth on a wheel barrel, we picked up the sack containing the mangrove's seedlings that the kids had collected the previous day and we took off for Lihunu's mangrove's forest.

As soon as we got in the shadow of the plants the Seasoldiers began to explain the kids how to treat each seedling. We had seedlings of two different kinds of mangroves, the Rhizophora species has long green seeds which end with a thicker round black part, whereas the Bruguire species has much shorter seed which has a reddish flower-shaped cap on top. Each seadling was placed into a bottle which was then filled up with two layers of different soils. After having filled up all the plastic pots we had we moved further into the forest. The tide was pretty low, you could see all the intricate roots of the mangroves coming out of a dark grey mud soaked with water. It was a curious feeling the one of walking in the mud. We had taken our shoes off and at every step our feet were sinking deep into the ground. You could feel the mud squeezed in between your toes. Finally we found a reasonably clear spot. Here we built a kind of a greenhouse using some bamboo and coconut leaves we had brought with us. Once the structure had been ultimated we placed the pots inside, we had about a hundred of them. In this way the seedlings can be reached by the water of the high tide without being carried away. Here in this greenhouse the seedlings will spend the next three month, during which they will grow and develop roots which will allow us to then move them and transplant them in the site of the old dead Busa Bora mangrove's forest.

Our work of the day was done. We exited the forest, said goodbye to the kids and then went back to the shack where we shared a home cooked meal of white rice and some fairly spicy fried fish.

It was a very cool experience! I've loved to see the kids being so interested in knowing the secrets of the forest and the Seasoldiers so passionate about sharing their knowledge and love for the oceanic environment.




 

Progress update: Lesson 3 of our education program with Seasoldier

We launched our new environmental education program at the end of July and since then, have had three lessons with the students at Lihunu Junior High School.

The first lesson was an introductory session in which the students met the teachers from Seasoldier and some of our representatives. We provided a brief outline of what the students would be covering during the four month program as well as an introduction to the three Bangka ecosystems that they would be learning about - the mangroves, coral reef and seagrass beds. 

Mangrove Lesson 2

The second lesson was incorporated into the school’s annual camp out at Busa Bora beach - the perfect location to learn more about the surrounding environment. We taught the students about the different mangrove species and then brought them out to see the mangroves next to the village. Unfortunately, a large portion of this mangrove forest has recently died due to an imbalance in salt and fresh water levels but there were still enough specimens to show the students examples of the different species. Students identified the trees and took measurements to determine their health and age. In the afternoon, we carried out a beach clean up on Busa Bora beach, with the students collecting over 40 bags of trash and recyclable plastic in record time.

Last week we were back in the classroom collating the results of the students’ field work and checking their understanding of the topics covered in the previous lessons. A representative from each group was chosen to present back their findings. Understanding the importance of these habitats as well as learning how to tell if they’re in good condition empowers the students to become guardians of their environment and ultimately ocean ambassadors. 

mangrove lesson

We still have 11 lessons to go before the end of the year in which we will carry out mangrove transplantations, explore the beautiful coral reefs surrounding Bangka and visit the dugong’s favourite local warung, the seagrass beds! Seeing the students respond to the lessons with such enthusiasm and interest has really strengthened our belief that one of the key tools in protecting our oceans’ future is education. 

Each lesson costs €100 to fund. This cost covers the transport, salary and accommodation of the teachers as well as teaching materials like paper and pens. Ultimately we want to roll this education program out to other schools on islands around North Sulawesi and beyond. If you’d like to support, please donate here

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.

DSC07100.jpg

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. 

DSC07016.jpg

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. 

IMG_4730.jpg

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

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!”

 

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?


 

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!