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25.3.16

Artificial Reef Part 3 -- Bottle Reef Survey's and Sea Creatures


James Surveying the Reef
James gently sways in the hammock on a sunny afternoon as I lounge beside him in one of the white pliable plastic deck chairs so typical in the communal area of Number 4. He is clad in his usual apparel of swim trunks, me in mine of bikini and well-worn oversized tank top.  Casually, we talk of the work he has done surveying the biodiversity of the bottle reefs planted by TRACC and the pleasure of seeing increased biodiversity return the tiny white-rimmed paradise of Pom Pom Island.

James McElroy works primarily to assess the impact of bottle reefs as a healthy reef structure in depleted reef ecosystems, and “satisfied” is the word on his lips. The actual work of the surveys take place while diving and the posture of James as he surveys the bottle reefs and the test sites, which are patches of coral rubble that once were healthy reefs, is one of calm concentration. He hovers in the water a little aside and above the
A Grouper Between the Bottles
sites, marking species in pencil on a white plastic slate – later pouring over species identification books to figure out exactly what grouper he saw, or what that particular wrasse with blue and green sides and orange fins was that’s been bothering him all week.

His surveys take place over 9 weeks and utilize 72 identical bottle reefs planted at 6 different sites scattered at intervals around the island for the purpose of his experiment. Preliminary results indicate
a higher number of species and greater biodiversity as compared to the test sites. Over 50 different species have been recorded as populating the new bottle reefs, among them a resident moray eel hiding in the shadows of the concrete base, a blue ringed mimic octopus chameleonesque in its color changing abilities, and a rose patterned batch of nudibranch eggs.

The Survey Team at Work
James is satisfied not only to directly see the results of the bottle reefs, but also expresses a satisfaction in his contribution to TRACC: “To quantify the conservation impact we have made on the biodiversity of these originally barren areas is important for the credibility of TRACC and the techniques we are using.  In a small way, I feel like I’m working as an auditor outside of TRACC by analyzing the work the organization has done.”


Yet, at the heart of it James, like all of us at TRACC is the most pleased with the results apparent through what we directly see at the bottle reefs, “When I’ve spotted two species on a control site and 14 on a new reef, its satisfying as a conservationist to see the effect of the new reefs i built”.







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Reef conservation would not be possible without generous financial support from
GEF /SGP for Malaysia who are helping our community activities and coralreefcare.com who generously provided materials to build the new reefs.

If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow their projects on Facebook.
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