Diving Tip of Borneo Jan 2015

A month of ups and downs
Cuttlefish in murky water

Cuttlefish in murky water

The weather at the start of the month was not great,  storms and floods all over Malaysia made roads difficult,  we got both the car and the minibus stuck in the mud on the same day.  Indeed we got the vehicles stuck before we reached the road.  The camp flooded and the office got 6inches 150mm of flood water in it.   None of the tents flooded although we needed some serious digging to create channels to drain the flood water away.
We did try to dive and did some zero or very close to it dives.  The road is being improved “””HA”””” behind the camp and the mess created by the diggers went straight down the river and created a slick of tea coloured water infront of the camp.

PK, Turtle point were definitely seriously low viz.  Even the lighthouse was poor – it was possible (IMHO) to dive but sticking close to your buddy was essential.  The ow and advanced courses learnt about diving in some of the worst conditions I have seen in Sabah in 15years.

 

And then overnight
Coconut cove Camp from the sea

Coconut cove Camp from the sea

It was like a different ocean,  The sea became calm and the visibility improved.  We had some great dives, with good visibility.  Cuttlefish everywhere and at night the sea is a twinkle of small lights as the local villagers go spearfishing for cuttlefish.  WE moved a lot of bottle reefs and igloos and have created a significant addition to our xmas tree reef.

The water has definitely come from somewhere cooler, it is a chilly 26degC and that may be warm for Europeans but for Malaysians who expect 29 and 30 deg it is distinctly chilly after a 1h dive.

Diving from Flying fish

Diving from Flying fish

 

 

 

Cuttlefish are very common at the moment and not shy :-)

Cuttlefish are very common at the moment and not shy :-)

using lifting bags to move bottle reefs.

using lifting bags to move bottle reefs.

Why TRACC divers should do EFR & Rescue.

dive rescue course choking victim

Rescue of a choking victim using the choking simulator.

We recommend EFR & Rescue because we aren’t a dive resort. We expect people to be capable of finding a buddy, making a plan, getting their gear and going diving by themselves more or less. And they need to make safe dives.

Dive resorts generally lead every dive with a dive master and frequently make all the decisions.  Resort divers don’t need to think about DCS or Safety.

TRACC and other scientific divers need to be able to make their own safe diving plan and follow it. Rescue diver gives people the skills to be able to deal with an underwater situation. Whereas PADI AOW is all about just getting people in the water as quickly as possible. To use a driving analogy….

Open water – “Congratulations, you’ve got L plates”
Advanced Open water – “Well done, you passed the test”
Rescue – “You can borrow my car and drive my mother to the shops”

TRACC divers don’t have to do EFR and RESCUE of course, but they are recommended. And the difference in price is what we pay to PADI for the qualification. We keep dive courses as cheap as possible.

The scientific diving course we do is Free on the fourth week of each month.

All diving needs to be safe first and fun 2nd.

Using the dummy to practice CPR.

Using the dummy to practice CPR.

 

 

 

TRACC Borneo Marine Bevaring projekt

Reading the tag number on a visiting turtle.

Reading the tag number on a visiting turtle.

Det tropiske forsknings -og bevaringscenter, (TRACC) hjælper, og forbygger koralrev, samt hjælper skildpadder og hajer i Sabah på Borneo, øst i Malaysia. Under forløbet vil du opleve at, dykke ved koralrev fra en hvid sandstrand og være en del af et aktivt havprojekt og hjælpe med at beskytte den mest truede del af havet.

TRACC har brug for frivillige til at renovere og lave koralrev omkring Sabah, øst i Malaysia. Koraller er basen i revets fødkæde og fungerer som et strukturelt skjold for fisk og andre marine liv. De 24,000 plantede koraller og koralenheder som TRACC’s frivillige har plantet, genopbygger nu revets mangfoldighed, som tydeligt kan ses i fisk -og koralbestanden. Vores arbejde viser mærkbart positive resultater på koralrevets økosystem. Bla. blæksprutter, krabber og småfisk flytter ind i de nyopbyggede områder og hajer og skildpadder gemmer sig ofte i revner og spækker i revet.

Surfacing from a fun dive.

Surfacing from a fun dive.

Sabah tilhører Koraltrekaten, (det havområde med mest biologisk liv) som betyder at, vores rev gemmer på alt fra blæksprutter, skildpadder, hvalhajer og andre sjældne og truede dyrearter.

Som kvalificerede dykkere, lærer de frivillige forskningsteknikker under vandet når de arbejder med hajer, rokker, revfisk og andre hvirveldyr samt under overvågning og optællinger af skildpaddernes æglægning, og plantning af koralrev.

Der findes også andre projekter på stedet for dem som hellere vil snorkle, bla. at holde opsyn med fugle og selfølgelig skildpadder.

Robinsone Crusoe looing for Man Friday

Robinsone Crusoe looing for Man Friday

Frivilligearbejdere har mulighed for at tage PADI certifikater afhænging af længen på den frivilliges ophold. Højere kvalificerede dykkere, har muligheden for at vælge mellem to fantastiske steder og kan ankomme hver mandag stort set året rundt. For nybegynnere, som ikke besidder dykkercertifikat, kan ankomme den første mandag i måneden og vælge et ophold på 2-12 uger.

Diving with Turtles on Pom Pom Island.

Sorry but the rest of the website is in English.  :-)

MOBILE SITE FOR VOLUNTEERS —-> Mobile summary

Volunteer projects 2015 —-  Dates —-Weekly schedule

Reviews from previous volunteers  —

Diving project costs 2015Snorkel project costs 2015

dive-teach-header-960-x-200.jpg

cuttlefish aggregation Dec 2014

cuttlefish spawning tip of borneo by tracc volunteers

Odang with cuttlefish, note the scared red colur. Photo by Vicky

One of the few creatures in the sea that shows curiosity, the cuttlefish is starting to gather near the Tip Of Borneo in large numbers.  They are hovering over  the corals in small groups. With the rhythmic wafting of its frills, its pulsating, colour changing skin and intelligent eyes, it is clear that it is watching the divers very closely.

The cuttlefish are less afraid this month and a close approach is possible. While our surveys in October saw only solitary individuals, in December there were small groups.  They are gathering for the annual spawning event which occurs over the first months of the year.

Cuttlefissh at the Tip of Borneo during a survey by tracc volunteersAt the Tip of Borneo the water temperature is dropping from 29 to 27 deg C, perhaps this is the trigger which stimulates the gathering.  Interestingly we have seen no small ones so presumably the spawning urge only comes to large sexually mature individuals.

Our cuttlefish survey project  –  TRACC diving volunteer expeditions

 

 

community volunteer costs 2015

TOB Snorkelling and community £
TOB-C10 Teaching 2 weeks 400
TOB-C11 Trailblazers 2 weeks 400
TOB-C12 Multimedia 2 weeks 400
Extra weeks C10, C11. C12 175
TOB-C15 Birdwatching 2 weeks 500
Extra weeks C 15 220
Pom Pom Snorkelling and Turtles £
Ppturt-2 2 weeks 600
Ppmmedia 2 weeks Plus materials supplied at cost 600
Extra weeks 275
TRACC turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

turtle volunteer snorkelling with green turtle

Coconut cove camp, Tip of Borneo

Snorkelling and community projects (Jan to End October)
English for the future,
Birdwatching
Forest trailblazer
Multimedia and artist volunteers

Pom Pom Island
Turtle conservation (snorkelling) (May to Sept)

—-  Assistance with fund raising –> click here <–

Become a community volunteer and we will see you soon  :-)

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Cuttlefish survey Oct 2014

TRACC staff and volunteers made 12 cuttlefish survey dives in October with an average of less than 1 cuttlefish seen in 70 minutes.  Slightly less than 1 cuttlefish per hour.  The cuttlefish were shy and it was hard to get close.  Hopefully as we get towards spawning in early 2015 it will be easier to get close to them.

volunteer diving with TRACC looking for Cuttlefish spawning at the Tip of Borneo

Solitary Cuttlefish

There have been no cuttlefish in the fish market on the 7 market survey days in October.

To learn more about the cuttlefish survey project

More about TRACC projects 2015

 

 

 

 

Sea snakes at the lighthouse Tip of Borneo

searching under the rocks

searching under the rocks

Sea snakes (banded sea snake) are common at the lighthouse at the Tip of Borneo.  They come ashore to rest in the shade of the rocks. Apparently they also drink the dew that drips in the rock crevices.  The sea snakes are not dangerous because they are not agressive, HOWEVER they are potentially deadly so touching them is definitely not recommended.  The females are typically larger and have large numbers of males coiled into the same crack in the rock.   We are fortunate to be able to see them occasionally in the water when they are extremely graceful.  They search amongst the coral for their prefered prey of morays and other eel like fish.  The seasnakes frequently have large clusters of parasitic ticks.

sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (64) (640x480) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (94) (640x480) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (90) (640x387) sea snakes at tip of borneo 21-6-14 (87) (640x420)

 

 

 

 

 

Seasnake photos on Facebook — Seasnake video  —

 

 

 

Shark survey analysis

shark market survey analysis

Which species is that?

Steve has been cocooned in his tent for the last few weeks working on the analysis for the WWF / TRAFFIC shark survey.  For several months in 2014, we collected data on all the sharks and rays we saw at the fish markets in Sabah.  The travel all over Sabah to fish markets was the easy part, we counted and measured sharks and rays, made notes and took photos and now Steve is trying to make sense of it all.  He comes out for meals and food plus tea on a regular basis but has not been diving or doing anything fun.   We snuck into his tent office the other day to see what is going on.

steve shark survey analysis (1) (640x451)What did we find –  Books on sharks everywhere plus 2 computers and a very large monitor all with pictures of sharks.  Steve explained – The sharks we surveyed at the market generally have no fins and even with fins they all look very similar.  He is clearly tearing out his hair trying to make sense of all the confusion. It was obvious to anyone that there were many many endanged species being landed, I mean even us students can recognise a hammerhead or a white tip.

More about the Shark & Ray Market survey ( dead and depressing)  –  Cuttlefish & Shark surveys – (In water with living creatures)  – Offshore reef survey (also in water but hopefully a long way from fishing)

 

 

Tofu the rescued turtle hatchlings

Green Turtle hatchling

Green Turtle hatchling

Last week while doing a nest inventory in the turtle hatchery we found little Tofu, a critically endangered Hawksbill turtle that had been underground in her nest far too long. Her brothers and sister turtle hatchlings emerged about 50 days before we found her so she had been in her nest, a hole in the ground for all that time with no food or water. She was severely dehydrated and starving, weighing only about 10.9g with a carapace length of 3.35cm.

Five days later and she’s doing well! She’s eating and swimming around from time to time but she still has a long way to go.

 

UPDATE – after several months of training how to catch and eat crabs and other marine life living in Sagassum, a fit and healthy TOFU was released into the deep blue sea so she can make her own way in the world.

Yes we understand that turtle hatchlings cannot be sexed at this age so tofu could be male.

hatchling swimming (4) (400x136)hawksbill hatchling in sargassum

RACE coral surveys and possible new TRACC site?

Being a Conservation center TRACC tries to be right at the heart of everything affecting the marine environment that goes on in the Sabah region. So when we we’re asked about an initial environmental impact assessment for an unknown area of reef we jumped at the chance! Our lucky divers got to experience more dive sites in one week than I have in the last 6 months.

Many of the sites had probably never been dove before. In under two weeks we racked up over 20 new dive sites. Why did we dive? Basically we undertook RACE (rapid assessment of coral ecosystems) surveys. They are exactly what they say on the tin. In a 30 minutes dive at a set depth we dive along the area , taking note of things like coral diversity, fish diversity, size and abundance, water turbidity and general health of the ecosystem. With this data we have an overall idea of the ecosystem health for the region and overtime we can see if coastal development such as aquaculture is having an effect. Also diving is rather fun, so its win win!

Whilst undertaking these RACE surveys around the Sabah region we also came across a possible new site for the TRACC project. Large expanses of forest reserves (thus no people, no settlement and no oil palm run off) with healthy reef ecosystems around the Pulau Bait area. A truly beautiful and unique area. The reefs there also aren’t as degraded as the reefs around Pom pom island. In fact you can see some very distinctive bomb craters, a chance for TRACC to set up a long term project upon the recovery of coral after a bomb crater. No surprise that our results show that there is a lack of fish due to over fishing, but with our presence I’m sure, like on Pom pom, that fish numbers would sky rocket!

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