12 & 13/06 first ReefCheck transects done today
13 June 2008 | 17 36'S:168 14'W, Port Havannah
12/06 Today we went to Mangaliliu village where we learnt about how ReefCheck is used in Vanuatu and were shown some of the local indicator species used here. These indicator species are Surgeonfish, Rabbit fish and Trochas shells and are included as they are often harvested for food. We did a practice ReefCheck transect and were impressed by the quality of the shallow reef. The people of Mangaliliu have declared a tabu area about 500 metres along their foreshore. This a cultural tabu, rather than for conservation purposes but the villagers are now becoming very interested in conserving their marine resources so we hope to do ReefCheck's in the tabu area and outside it to see if there has been much effect. The village was hosting a Vanua-Tai meeting. Vanua-Tai is a group of "resource monitors" that formed a few years ago from a turtle tagging initiative. We were very fortunate to have arrived at this time. Chris was invited to address the meeting and gave a 10 minute talk. Co-incidentally the OceansWatch logo has a turtle on it and Vanua-Tai is very focused on Turtle conservation so our logo was met with much enthusiasm. The Vanua-Tai members were very interested in working with OceansWatch in the future and we were asked to go to three villages next year to help them with ReefCheck and support their wish to create Marine Protected Areas.
After the meeting the Magic Roundabout crew were presented with some lovely cloth, a traditional gift from the village. In the evening we joined the Vanua-Tai participants and the village for a shared meal. Mangaliliu and it's nearby sister village have a population of about 700 and a language all of their own!
Today we did our first ReefCheck survey. This was in the tabu area at about 6m. It went well but we were all a little disappointed at the lack of hard coral in the deeper water after seeing so much in the shallows. On this dive we were joined by Felix from the local village. Felix will be trained to dive by OceansWatch in July. We presented him with a wetsuit that had been donated by Dive! Tutukaka and was much appreciated. After our dive we took Felix out for a sail.