Big Fish Surveys

I have been a volunteer and science intern at TRACC for just over two months and the journey has been amazing. The work and effort that TRACC has put into conserving and rehabilitating the marine creatures has shown a significant difference since they first started. There are many conservation projects that TRACC does but one of my favourites is the large fish survey. 

Plectropomus are indicative of healthy reef.
The very first large fish survey was done in 2011 when TRACC first arrived on Pom Pom Island and the fish are still being surveyed and added as data. The reason for this is because we want to know if the coral restoration and artificial reefs are attracting fishes. According to the data, there has been a drastic increase in the number of large fishes since 2011.

Before my first large fish survey, Tom, the senior science officer, made sure that we knew how to identify the large fish families such as sharks, rays, triggerfish, groupers, sweetlips etc. As soon as we'd gone through the fish identification, we jumped into the water right away. On that very first fish survey dive, I had trouble identifying all the different types of large fishes but Tom guided and made sure I improved at identifying the large fishes. Thanks to him, by the time I'd done 3 fish surveys, I felt like a pro! Now, after weeks of surveying, I am taking over and leading the fish survey with new volunteers that are in TRACC.

I personally think that a fish survey is like a treasure hunt. Every large fish that we find is like finding gold! And stingrays are like finding platinum! One of my favourite fish surveys was when we saw three eagle rays in one survey and one of them swam right over our heads. That was one of the best dives I've ever had; not just to see an eagle ray but also to see it swimming so close.

Bolbometopon also need healthy coral
Another great fish survey experience was when I saw my first bumphead parrotfish. Those parrotfishes were about a meter long and had teeth that were so big they looked like they were wearing hockey gum guards. They seemed intimidating but they are one of the gentlest creatures I've ever met. During my survey, 13 of them parrotfishes were eating in a land full of corals. Somehow they really reminded me of a herd of cows.

These are only some of the many things I've experienced during my science internship and I'm only just beginning. Through diving and fish surveying, the ocean never fails to surprise me. I am learning new things about the ocean everyday and there is never a dull moment. I am definitely looking forward to getting on with the next fish survey and I will be sure to go in to the water with an expectant heart, knowing that in every fish survey that I do, I will be in awe.

Natalie surveying for big-fish at TRACC

If you want to help with any marine conservation activity, please 
check our website http://tracc.org or e-mail info@tracc-borneo.org 

For more updates on TRACC check out our Facebook, Twitter or Google +

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.