Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Roll On MCC

First heard about MCC, on the island of Koh Seh, from Maria my daughter who visited 4 years ago. We came here together for a week in early Feb 2019. Me to avoid the UK winter her to take a break from working in HCMC.

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

A Trip To Ho Chi Min

Chiara Gambini – A Trip To Ho Chi Min – 12th November 2018

Hey guys!

Are you ready to read the latest exciting news from MCC?

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

A Testimony from Doug

One month ago, one of our volunteers, Doug left our island after volunteering with us for one month. He really loved it, and created a picture album about his stay. On each picture, you’ll find a small description of what happened while he was taking the picture. He actually did that for his entire month, and try to communicate what was happening here in his own way. Just below, you’ll find the link of his album.

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Digging up a dead dolphin: cleaning the carcass

We all gathered around the grave to receive a briefing from Sarah Tubbs, chief dolphin excavator, at 3pm. The plan was to set up separate stations for the unearthed dolphin bones to be washed, dried, drawn, numbered and finally, assembled. Jasmine and I were tasked with the cleaning and drying of the bones. The plan was to start with the skull and to work our way down the skeleton one at a time to make identification and assembly of the skeleton easier.

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Who is Marine Conservation Saving?

A Wonderful Article from Myrah, one of our previous volunteers. Its always a real pleasure to see that our volunteers continue their passion after they leave, and that we manage to have a positive influence that leaves a lasting motivation to help protect our planet and our oceans. 

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A Cambodian Memory

Written by Sorina, who was shocked at the changes in the Ocean that she saw returning to Kep after being away for 42 years. The Ocean was no longer blue, clean and or full of life.

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Just the Beginning

And that’s Just the Beginning

“Wake up, it’s time to go hurry up or you’ll be late come on”, you wake up and check the time: 5:48AM, the alarm on your phone has attempted to signal you 3 times already (you forgot to switch off silent mode), luckily you’ve got little sisters.

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Just Found a Funny Article I wrote a few years back.

This article is adapted from our first end of year summary written after our first full year of operation in 2008, it was a crazy time, No tourism, No Support, No Finances.

Just us the village, poverty and crazy fishermen with guns and dynamite.

Marine Conservation Cambodia in its first 12 months went from strength to strength, mainly down to the dedication and commitment of the Marine Conservation Cambodia team and the volunteers that had given their time, energy and passion to help protect Cambodia’s marine environment and the crazy driven passion of its founder Paul Ferber. With times of no food, no water and being reduced to eating the same fish bones soup after three days of boiling for breakfast lunch and dinner, just give me some jungle leaves anything to make it taste like food.

Our achievements over that first year started to change the tide of destruction that was rapidly destroying some of the most unique habitats in SE Asia areas we loved areas we dived daily and could see the destruction first hand. The protection of the Corral a dive site we named in 2007 and one of the main Seahorse breeding grounds we had discovered, the creation of the largest community managed marine area in Cambodia which took almost two years to see happen allowed us an opportunity for hope that some of the diverse marine habitats we had discovered would be able to begin recovery.

The surveys we conducted, which lets be honest were not the most scientific but hey we were learning and it was a little to crazy out there and we were a little to new to be able to find anyone with real skills, but as passionate divers we identified many new areas to be legislated for protection and increased the overall knowledge and documentation on Cambodian marine species, including the discovery of one new unknown species of Nudibranch not to mention putting Cambodia firmly on the map as a seahorse paradise. During that first year we argued a lot with so called knowledgeable foreigners who being to scared to actually do anything cried research, research, research, yet did nothing constructive except trying to find funding for themselves to stay in Cambodia and live the NGO lifestyle  (we can come back to this in a later summary :).

Our Seahorse project brought national and international attention to Cambodia’s diverse but declining Seahorse populations, leading to the creation of governmental sub decrees that now make it illegal by Cambodian law to catch or trade in Seahorses. This was a time to celebrate, as this became law we celebrated the protection of the seahorses, but in our naivety we forgot to take into account that you need enforcement or laws mean nothing, did not take us long for our short lived celebrations to return to the oh shit we just lost another area to the trawlers and back to that creeping feeling of uselessness, again hitting home that this fight was not about paper and money, it was about true grit, determination and a general disregard for our own personal safety not to mention a lot of drowning our sorrows with rice wine and old school Khmer dancing.

The close working relationship we developed with the Cambodian Ministry of Fisheries still continues today and has also turned into many lasting friendships, this at the time lead to the creation of a 4km buffer zone around the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. This zone was created to protect the diverse inshore areas around both islands from the sand extraction vessels, which were operating in Cambodian waters. One small boat, 5 or 6 crazy people. Night time special opps or oops as your head hit the bottom of the large steal hull in the dark, filming the boat at night that used the excuse oh sorry our anchors broken we had to use our large pipe to anchor the boat, over this very large hole that was not there before, uuuummmm! But hey the video was great and well received on delivery to the right people, job well done.

The changes were not only at national level but also provincial level and within the local community level, with volunteers running daily lessons at the Koh Rong Samloem school, the creation of a referral clinic for the Koh Rong Samloem community and the extra income generated through true eco-tourism helped the local island economy creating jobs and small community run businesses that catered for the volunteers.

All together it was an amazingly successful year, didn’t know what we were doing, but did it anyway, risked life and limb to save the little horses, why? Just because they were peaceful. Became very accustomed to rice in all its forms including liquid, never thought rice could give you such a headache in the morning.

There was a big thank you to all those who were involved and a warm welcome to those that would come to join us in the future. We learnt a lot about bureaucracy, angry men with guns, crazy kids with machine guns, and how to function in a village that was never sober and often did not allow you to be either.

If you are interested in getting involved or supporting the project now its more organized, not so dangerous and definitely more scientific please contact us for more details

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Bringing Marine Research Training to Cambodian Students

Artificial Reef CambodiaArtificial Reef CambodiaArtificial Reef Team is a group of four senior students majoring Environmental Science at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. We created this project for our BA thesis. The objective of our project is to create, deploy and monitor an artificial reef for improving ecosystems and enhancing marine resources. It is our first project into the marine field. We work together and get support on technical training from Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) for 5 months period.


During the first two months, we were training on diving, learning fish, invertebrates and substrate identifications. After that, we studied and chose the site for one week. The aim of the site selection was to find the place where we can get independent data, which will not affect from the natural reef.


We conducted the baseline for three days in one week (3 replicates). At the same time, we built the concrete blocks. We managed to build 10 blocks per day, in total 44 concrete blocks.


Anti Trawling Device and Artificial Oyster ReefBy December 2016, we deployed the blocks and lions successfully. The whole area of our study site is consisted of 2 lion statues, 2 hexagons and 1 square. The reason we chose lion as it represents Khmer culture. Beside those lions, the hexagon and square will give shelter for marine life.


The monitoring survey took around 5 weeks. The three fish species that we picked from the graph found nothing while we conducted baseline survey, but found their number increased after deployed the structures. Those are Java Rabbitfish, Black-spot Snapper and Monogram Monocle Bream.


We chose three species of fish, which were not found when we conducted baseline survey, but their appearance appeared and increased as the structures are deployed. Those are Java Rabbitfish, Black-spot Snapper and Monogram Monocle Bream.

Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Liger Visit and The Turtle Rescue

Liger Learning Center VisitThe best day of my life… so far Turtle Rescue and Release

Well it all started by saying good bye. It was a Friday morning just like any other. I woke up ready to experience another beautiful day, on the island of Koh-Seh. Every day is a Beautiful day, with wonder, excitement, loving energies and the chance to learn something new.

For the past 4 days, we here at Koh-Seh, got to share our experiences with some very bright young minds, even though they came to learn from us, I felt as if I had learnt just as much from them. These were just some of the incredible kids that came from a school of 120 children. Now this school isn’t just any ordinary school. The kids from this School are so brilliant, they leave you feeling extremely inspired and motivated that you can’t fathom how much of an influence, such young adults can create on people who are already very excited and motivated.

10 students from the Liger school of Cambodia stayed with us and learnt about marine conservation. On their third day they even set up their own projects to be carried out for future studies. Some of the children studied the use of algae’s as a form of income for fishers, an attempt to teach them the benefits of sustainable living. The goal is for them to transform their illegal fishing equipment in to an algae cultivation station. They would grow the algae, harvest it and eventually sell it, The algae is edible and can be used in sushi and other dishes as an alternative for fisherman instead of resorting to illegal and destructive fishing methods.

They researched all the algae’s that are available in the Cambodian ocean and chose two. The sea grape algae and the red sea lettuce, mmmm yummy.  One other project two children looked into was creating an artificial reef. Where once there was beautiful lush green meadows of seagrass and clusters of oyster beds. Now there is mud, sand, and silt. So they created concrete blocks to be placed in the ocean, stacked in a design of their choice to monitor the effects it has on the fish: providing homes and sanctuary. The Invertebrates: providing safety and security and for the bivalves a place to attach on so they can filter the water column once again. The substrates now have a sub biotic substrate growth platform, for coral, sponges, zoanthids and hydroids. Very interesting, anyway this was the morning of their departure a sad day. We said our goodbyes and wished them well on their travels and that we looked forward to seeing them again in the future.

After they left on our boat to go to the mainland, Paul Ferber (founder of MCC Marine Conservation Cambodia) received a message on his phone from the Kampot fisheries. The messaged contained several photos of a pair of green sea turtles a male and a female. It turns out the night before, we heard a pair trawler from our island. A very loud and destructive horrible sound that shakes the ground and hurts the heart when you know what’s really going on under the water. Paul altered the fisheries of the location that sound of death was being transmitted from. Which resulted in the catch and apprehension of an illegal fishing vessel and an incredible rescue two endangered yet majestic creatures of the Cambodian ocean.

Most people probably don’t even know these marvelous animals still exist in these waters. After Paul showed me the photos I felt like crying, these things looked bloody enormous in comparison to the men who saved them in the pictures. I stopped and thought about how many other beautiful animals are literally stolen from their home as a result of illegal fishing methods. Just imagine how long these lovable reptiles have been surviving, striving and just getting by. But, last night they got caught in a net and tomorrow maybe served in a soup very, very sad it broke my heart. After all the sadness became too overwhelming Paul received a phone call from Kampot fisheries who said that a government official was coming down from Phnom Penh to witness the safe return of the traumatized reptiles, Paul got off the phone very excited and said ok quick quick I need to get to Kampot now. I was so excited he was going to witness their release I said get plenty of photos no just take a video oh do both. We organized a long tail boat for a lift to our big boat because our other boat had already left for the Friday day trip of supply collection. The fishers who owned the boat were just finishing lunch and then they would come straight away after. I thought for laugh I’ll ask if I can accompany him on this voyage to the mainland and witness the release of an animal I had actually never seen before except on the television. He thought about it and then Holly Paul’s youngest daughter also asked if she could come along and his son B and his second youngest daughter Fern. Coincidentally it was Holly’s birthday (best birthday present ever right). Eventually he agreed and we all got dressed in very nice clothes since it was going to be on TV and there was going to be a lot of very important attending this release.

Asian beliefs say aiding a Sea turtle in returning back to its home promotes longevity. The boat ride went so very quickly we were all overwhelmed with euphoria before we knew it we were on the mainland. We met our boat captain SamNang and asked if he would like to come with us to experience a once in a life time opportunity, he was concerned about the boat and asked his friend to watch it for him. Then we all piled in to Paul’s car and headed to Kampot when we arrived in Kampot we met up with Amick from MCC who was in Kampot for the weekend and when he got news of the day that was planned he quickly purchased some new threads and had a clean shave to look more presentable.

Looking fresh to death we all headed to the Kampot fisheries headquarters, to see the recuperating green sea turtles! We arrived and were greeted by two officers who showed us the pair which were in a small amount of water to keep them moist but, not too much so they could still lift their heads up to breathe. Also there was a shower bowl to pour over their shells to prevent them drying out. I was gob smacked and speechless so were the kids, I know in the Photo they looked big but wow! We found out it was a female and a male the female weighed 100kg and the male weighed 120 kilos.

Paul believed that the turtles were quite old to be so large the female was around 40 years old and the male 50 years old, the fisheries officers said the expert had said the exact same thing. The female was strong and still had a lot of fight in her but, the male was weary after dealing with the night from hell he looked like he wasn’t going to make it. I felt sympathetic to these big beautiful reptiles of the ocean, so I sent the turtles some loving energies to try and let them know everything was going to be ok, the female looked slightly reassured but, male didn’t look convinced. After we saw the turtles were in good hands we agreed to meet back here in 2 hours so we went and met up with all the people who were involved in the rescue of turtles before we knew it we were back and at the fisheries headquarters because it was time to transport these humungous eccentric beings.

We decided to use Paul’s car because it had a large area in the back that we could lay a tarp down and make a pool for the turtles, to remain moist before returning to sea. We laid down the tarp and then proceeded in very carefully picking up these mammoth sized beasts upon moving the male we discovered that he actually did have a lot residual strength left and we all felt like a weight had been lifted literally. After successfully moving them into the back of the car we brought a bucket of water to pour over their shells and everyone got in the car except Nang and I we rode in the back to car for the turtles. We were to travel 6km out of Kampot to a small fishing village which had easily accessible water and no large boats passing around. On the way there we used our phones to live stream the transportation of two endangered animals that had become captured in an illegal fishing net. It was a very quick drive we arrived before I knew we continued to the very end of the road till the water was less than 10 meters away we stopped the car. Some locals came over and had a look then all of a sudden there was people everywhere wanting to sea these spectacular creatures.

Several cars pulled up some camera crews came out and a very important government official approached the car he was very happy to see the magnificent animals very much alive in the back of the car. We let the tail gate down and waited for someone to do something but, everyone was so concerned about getting a photo or a video that Paul, Amick and Nang with the assistance of a marine police officer picked up the female and started transporting her to the water immediately she got one wiff of that ocean and started flapping her fins so they hurried her down to the water placed her in it and she swam away so quickly so happy to be home again. Next was the big old male they lifted him up as they approached the water the fisheries officers asked them to place him down next to the water on a tarp and they proceeded to tag him take some photos as they placed him down he locked their hands on to his body with his powerful muscles in his fins so it was clear he was still very strong would and survive knowing this we all grinned from ear to ear and watched as this stunningly beautiful majestic bloody enormous reptile of the ocean returned home with a few flaps of his fins he was gone thus concludes the best day of my life… so far. Now whenever I feel sad or angry I think of this day and am immediately brought back to state of euphoria peace and harmony!      

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