Eric - tribute to a friend

Eric Hagestad - Our great friend, dive buddy and nice guy passed away very unexpectedly and we will miss him.

 Always willing and happy, Eric made the most out of life.  He came to TRACC as a divemaster intern and soon became the go to guy for any work or pleasure dive.  Eric loved diving and extended his stay to help the instructors and other dive masters with courses and leading dives.

Eric had a funeral and burial at sea.
His wife describes it perfectly.

... the sky was beautifully clear, the water perfectly blue, and the sun was shining on us as your body was carried in a casket onto the boat. i knelt down for a moment of prayer before we set sail at 8:30 with david, the captain, his crew, and glenn, the funeral director, and his partner, tony. the seagulls flew overhead showing us the way while people waved at us. even the dolphins made an appearance then went under to alert everyone in the ocean what was to come. i sang that song to you over and over like a broken record until we arrived at our destination one hour later. bells were rung and then a changing of the guard ceremony before your body was gently lowered into the ocean. i threw roses to mark the spot and then envisioned the fish tugging at the strings of the shroud to free your body. i saw you slowly, tentatively kick a few times to get rid of the stiffness before diving deeper, faster than you'd ever done before, without oxygen, fins, mask or wetsuit. there was a long parade of sealife trailing behind so happy to welcome your body back.

To help remember Eric at the dive location he loved so much we have built him a TRACC reef.  The Giant E memorial.

All round nice guy, we will miss you.

Eric Hagestad Memorial reef

To our friend Erik, who spent the last half a year on a tiny island called Pom Pom with most of us. He was doing what he loved, building artificial reefs, doing reef conservation and finishing his Divemaster. To honor him we built and installed the biggest and heaviest reef we`ve made to date at Tracc.

With your reef Erik, you will still be providing habitat for fishes and a stable area for corals to grow. Thank you for keeping the north current to a minimum and allowing us to install the E reef safely.
This reef is just for you, we all miss and love you.

Thank you to everybody who made this possible, also thanks a lot to the volunteers who never had the pleasure of meeting Erik, but contributed to the building of Eriks reef.

Lots of Love and best wishes.

 Obituary to Eric.


Turtles galore

Turtle nesting at TRACC is commonplace,  with a nest almost every week through the year, there is a great spectacle of National Geographic proportions happening all the time. This year 2016, we have had nesting turtles since January and yesterday (22-09-2016) in a stroke of good fortune, we had two females emerge to nest within a few metres and a few minutes of each other.

Moving 100+kg across the sand on your belly is hard work.
  Standing within metres of a nesting female as she scrabbles through the bushes puts wild life and wild places into perspective.  For me, its amazing that all TRACC staff and volunteers can get up close to real endangered species that have been on the planet for millions of years.  These are real experiences of life on the planet - upclose and personal, rather than images carried by the internet to millions of people.

A short distance down the beach from the TRACC camp and it is easy to imagine that Sir David Attenborough is also on the beach - talking to the cameras that will carry the images of prehistoric reptiles across the world.

Chambering involves digging with the back flippers.

Volunteers and students who are seeing these amazing creatures for the first few times are always suitably impressed but the excitement for the staff varies in intensity depending on how much sand the turtle throws.  It is always a balance, shower at the end of a diving  day, or wait to shower after being covered in sand and turtle mucus.  There is still a great sense of achievement as the new turtle nest is dug in the hatchery where the eggs will be safe until the hatchlings are released to run down the sand to the sea.
Collecting the eggs into the bucket

We are so lucky to have these opportunities,  a few years ago getting to Pom Pom Island and turtle nesting beaches was a logistical nightmare.  Now transport and access is easy, our role is to balance the needs of the turtles so that tourism and development actually benefits these wonderful reptiles.

A job well done, eggs safely into the hatchery. 




If you want to help with any marine conservation activity please check out our website tracc.org or e-mail iinfo@tracc-borneo.org
For updates check out our facebooktwitter or Google +
Turtle, shark or Reef conservation would not be possible without the generous financial support. We thank GEF/SPG for Malaysia who are helping our community activities, and coralreefcare.com who generously provide materials to build more reefs.   
If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook


Community Coral Planting on Kalapuan

The Community Coral Team 
A bustle of activity and a flurry of hands helped to build 12 bottle reefs and 2 big turtle reefs during the Community Coral Planting day on Kalapuan Island.

Upon arrival to Kalapuan, TRACC staff and volunteers were greeted from the shores by the usual picturesque scene of blue water, green trees, and smiling faces and happy hands. As an added bonus Chief Ibno organized a pre Community Coral Day beach clean, greeting TRACC with clean beaches and a successfully collected and pile of
plastic bottles, wrappers and polystyrene.

Nat and Christine Talking Shark Fin Soup
Between reef making and lunch eating, Liam, Khairul, Nat and Christine gave a talk about the importance of coral reefs and the role of sharks in coral reef ecology. Highlighting the importance of conserving the reef and saying no to shark fin soup.

Waving a temporary goodbye to Kalapuan as the boat departed at the end of a productive day the event felt like a great success. But the works not over yet, TRACC will organize another Community Coral Planting Day in the near future to drop the completed and dried reefs.

Bottle Reef Making with Wellman and Liam

A big thanks to Mr. Yusof owner of the Kalapuan Island Resort for the use of the resort and providing a location to drop the reefs, the volunteers from TRACC and Kalapuan, the TRACC staff for the months of planning and to the GEF Small Grants Program (SGP) for providing the financial support to make the Community Coral Planting day such a success!


If you want to help with any marine conservation activity please check out our website tracc.org or e-mail iinfo@tracc-borneo.org

For updates check out our facebooktwitter or Google +

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

If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook


Career prospects as a biologist

So, I was curious... I have 40 friends (old enough to have found their career but not yet career academics) who have degrees in biology in some form or other. Professionally, 21 of them don't have anything to do with biology at all. Of the 19 "biologists", 11 of them either do not make any money or are actually going into debt in order to do what they love. That's 27.5% of biology graduates who are still in the hole, digging, in the hope that they find a ladder.

The optimist says:-
An academic career in biology is a long slow process,  From my experience of knowing younger academics and dealing professionally with older ones, I would suggest that earnings snowball over time. It takes time for the investment of time to do a PhD to be paid back financially but I'm yet to know a Dr of anything that isn't well set by their 50s

 While the pessimist:
But you have to be a fool to do a PhD. Its is it not the 'marine' bit that is the problem rather than the 'biology' bit. I know people working for the NHS, Boots and GSK with biology degrees doing very well. Is it not the case that the 'marine biology' industry just doesn't have the financial clout of pharma/health/research?
There are some zoologists in here too but basically, there's no money (and consequently no jobs) in non-medical biology.

From the highest levels of the United Nations, politicians promote the Millenium goals, the Aichi decade for biodiversity but the money is always too little.   The reality of the planet as we approach 2020 is that regardless of the environmental issue of pollution, extinction and climate change, there are simply too few jobs to employ people who may be able to make a difference.  

A-Level All Stars 2016

The Classroom 
Only A*, A’s and B’s for the 2016 A-level class of TRACC! The many hours spent learning and teaching inside the stilted and turtle adorned classroom, studying on the jetty, the hammocks, number 4, and wherever else the class could find a quiet spot and a moment to resist the lure of the ocean has paid off.

The scores are awesome, but more so is the knowledge the class gleaned and shared. Simply by cohabiting the camp with an emphasis and atmosphere of learning and teaching, and plentiful knowledgeable people, the whole camp
Ocean Acidification Experiment
with Sophie and Basil 
became a little more tuned to the science of the ocean.

Congratulations all you fantastic A-levelers – Christine, Sophia, Peng, Sophie, Graeme, Basil, Oliver, and Tom Tom! And to all the wonderful teachers that helped them along – Tom, Steve, and Hazel!

For more info on the course please email info@tracc-borneo.org or visit the the website


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

For updates check out our facebook, twitter or Google +

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

If visits to Tracc are not possible then please help with financial support and follow our projects on facebook


Lunar eclipse 3rd sept 2016

TRACC works in the middle of the Celebes sea on a tiny desert island.  Perfect for coral reef conservation but also fantastic to see the beauty of the Universe.  We normally look at macrolife, from nudibranchs to octopus but when the Moon shows how amazing the night sky can be, it is hard to ignore the largest visible thing in the night sky.

The shadow of the earth on the moon is clearly visible.

With time and effort, Gon our dive instructor managed to get this great photo.  Thanks

Visits to TRACC can't guarantee that the Moon will make the trek across the sky again.  The stars are always great, sunsets fantastic and the undersea life always amazing.


Shark rescue project

Sabah is a diving mecca, one of the best places to dive in the world.  The reefs can be superb.  More coral and a wider range of biodiversity than anywhere else.  Nudibranchs, coral crabs and macrolife are all abundant - all the reefs from Pom Pom to Mabul and Kapali have great muck and macro.

What about the larger stuff - I am an older diver and I can't see the tiny.  I need big fish and sharks  :-) Sipadan has plenty to keep my interest but it is a tiny place.   Other reefs have almost nothing big and the reason is quite clear..  OVERFISHING.

The photo says it all.  all the baby sharks are being caught and eaten.  This is one market stall on 1 day.  More sharks than i have ever seen underwater!!

Our Shark rescue project will protect a shark population, and allow them to breed.
If  you care about sharks and reefs,  please promote our shark rescue project on Social media.

crowdrise.com/shark-rescue-and-release project.      Saving sharks on TRACC website
Update 3 


Pom Pom from air 2016

Pom Pom Island, is a jewel of a white sand island in the Celebes Sea.  Nestled next to Borneo island in the NE Semporna islands.
Warm clear water, great diving and snorkelling.  a tropical paradise
Great place for marine conservation - sharks - turtles or coral
Come visit TRACC and make a difference with your next trip.

Dive Instructor Vacancy

Tracc has a vacancy for a scuba instructor starting immediately.

We're a small, volunteer organisation that are restoring the reef around Pom Pom island in the Celebes Sea, off the East coast of Malaysian Borneo. See the Map.

We need our divers to be well trained; peak performance buoyancy is an integral part of everyone's open water course, because novice divers crash landing on our beautifully planted coral is just not an option. But, we don't have many students, just four or five a week, and we allow you two weeks per course so that you have plenty of time to do the job properly.

All this time means that there's plenty of opportunity for you to take part in the science and conservation aspect of the project too. Some of the diving we do is, well, unique....

For all the details, please send an e-mail to info@tracc-borneo.org 
or call Hazel on (+6) 019 8505412


Social Media Internships

Could you be this girl? Taking fifty shots to get the perfect sunset? Or this one? Lounging in a hammock while you upload some video you took on this morning's diving? Tracc has a vacancy for a social media intern.

We're offering a qualified diver a 12 week stay, and all the diving you can do for just £625 (US$830) and some social media maintenance.  If you're not a diver we can teach you at cost.

We don't need professional photographers, videographers or journalists, although if you are one, you're more than welcome to apply! 

Just someone who can point and shoot and capture what it is we do with enthusiasm.

As our SM Intern you will:
  • Write a blog on your experiences at least once a week.
  • Post to Facebook and Instagram daily.
  • Twitter about our science, conservation and diving.
  • Curate the multitude of photos our volunteers take and maintain the photo database.

To apply, please write a 500 word blog post on anything you like, attach a couple of your best happy-snaps and e-mail them to info@tracc-borneo.org


Mataking exploration

Yesterday we travelled to Mataking and dived on the far side of the islands, it was a turtle mecca there, we saw 6-7 before we even started the dive, however the number of fish was much lower than at Pom Pom and overall the dive was no less entertaining than most dive at Pom Pom.

A few days ago in the afternoon we did a fish survey from the Pom Pom Northtip jetty where I saw my first Hawksbill of this trip, 4 Green Turtles and a meter long Bumphead parrot fish hiding under a large coral. 

The marine life is great and so many turtles.

Paul Fadden Aug 2016