Life on the island is an interesting mixture between extremely busy and extremely relaxing. There are always loads of people working on various amazing projects around the island, which is incredible because you get to learn new information from very passionate people. Projects include seahorse tagging, coral bleaching mapping, waste management development, gardening, report writing, and even planning a children’s play about the affects of trawling!
It’s good to be in a place where people care so much about protecting the marine ecosystem. I, personally, have come with five other students from University of Exeter and Falmouth and our project is surveying the impacts of trawling on the seagrass beds and bivalve populations. We are also working to complete a short documentary about the impacts of trawling on the Kep people.
We have interviewed Paul (MCC founder), Amick and Delph (second in command staff leaders), as well as the marine police on the island to help gain perspective. MCC also coordinated our dives at Koh Pou and arranged interviews with the fishers there. We are going to combine all the information we have learned from the interviews and data collection to gain a complete understanding of trawling.
MCC also has a partnership with the Royal University of Agriculture and three of those students came to spend two weeks living on the island; helping us translate documents into Khmer and learning how to snorkel.
Our goal, along with MCC’s, is to help others learn and give tools to teach people for the future and increase understanding overall. It has been an interesting experience and learning curve living on the island for weeks doing everything together: working, eating, rooming etc. Island dynamics require that issues be quickly resolved and asking for guidance as soon as you need it.
With more time, I would have wanted to get more involved with the projects of MCC like seahorse surveys and the play. It is good to know the other work we could have done while here, and know if I return I would still be busy with continuing their research. If only we had more time!