This report is a companion piece to the Island Reach (IR) introductory video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOH2OpfKDBE and summarizes the range and variety of activities IR has undertaken to date to meet its mission in Vanuatu during the 2014 fieldwork season. IR is designed to operate in partnership, offering support to existing conservation projects in Vanuatu. We are indebted to the villages, groups and individuals mentioned for their support, welcome and guidance.
Port Vila, Efate, Capital of Vanuatu, May-June
Orientation; meetings with government, civil, and private sector stakeholders; intensive Bislama language training with Teri Firiam.
350 Vanuatu, Pacific Climate Warriors, May
Produced video documenting climate action campaign.
Buninga Water Project, Live & Learn, June
Assisted with implementation of water security project on the remote and hard-to-access island of Buninga, Shepherd Group: technical design and sourcing of materials, transportation of Live & Learn personnel and 11 x 1100 liter water tanks and gutter collection systems (project material weight estimated @ 4tons); installation of collection systems with community; and video documentation for Live & Learn and project funders
Partnership with Sarah Graham, M.Sc Marine Ecology, Marine Biodiversity Project Officer Vanuatu Department of Tourism, Shefa Province Office, July
Ms. Graham joined RV Llyr for a 4 week expedition (free of charge) focused on Crown of Thorns Starfish (COT) surveying, community awareness, and mitigation. IR also provided Ms. Graham pro-bono Reefcheck Pacific Ecodiver training and certification.
Loru Community Conservation Area, REDD+ project with Live & Learn, August
Filmed and produced a 30 minute video for Live & Learn and project funders, documenting the REDD+ project at the Loru Community Conservation Area, Espiritu Santo Island.
Crown of Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster Planci) Mitigation, March-September
– In consultation from the US with Peter Whitelaw in Vanuatu, researched and acquired 5 low-cost NJ Philips 15ml Dial-a-Dose Injection Guns with added 6′ stainless-steel needle extenders and 5 liter flexi packs to be trialed for COT mitigation in Vanuatu. These injection gun units cost 70% less than available equipment currently marketed internationally for COT management. They are easy to use at both dive and snorkel depths and can be used with readily available, low cost, natural toxins. As a result of IR’s work, numerous stakeholders across government, civil, and private sectors are now
adopting this equipment.
–Training on COT culling methods in Havannah Harbor, Efate, and COT mitigation literature review with Peter Whitelaw, Secretary of the Vanuatu Scuba Operator’s Association and Captain of SV Goldenwing.
– Produced 60 Crown of Thorn Starfish (COT) culling kits, (hook/bag/glove) in collaboration with Peter Whitelaw. Total material cost of kits: US$300. To date, 45 kits distributed, with training in their use, to community members and environmental monitors throughout Vanuatu.
– Educational presentations on coral reefs ecology, including (where relevant) Crown of Thorns behavior and management:
Emae, Marae Community Center
Emae, Primary School
Lamen Bay primary school
Lutes church, Maskelyne Islands.
Pelonk Community Center, Maskelyne Islands
Bwatnapni Primary/Seconday school, Pentecost
Ranputor Community Center, Pentecost
Pangi Primary School, Pentecost
– Worked with Marae village members and conservation area managers to build an educational coral garden.
– COT Culling Activities:
* Emae Island, Shefa Province & Sangalai, Maskelyne Islands, Malampa Province:
Teamed up with village-based environmental monitors, conservation area chairmen, and community members to survey and cull COTs. Produced short videos for the communities on their collaborative efforts.
* Crab Bay Conservation Area, Malekula Island:
Conducted field trials on COT injection using the injection guns IR brought from the US employing various natural acids in association with the Vanuatu Dept. of Fisheries. Five day campaign from RV Llyr, including surveys, 32 tank dives, 5 snorkel sorties, 8 georeferenced video transects, and 3 parallel 50 meter replicate injection transects (this last, specifically on behalf of fisheries). COT mitigation by the IR team over this period was highly successful, resulting in 3200 COTs culled over 29,000 square meters of reef. A report of activities and results was produced for Fisheries.
Additional COT culling sites:
Lelepa Island, Havannah Harbor, Efate, Shefa Province
Cook Reef x 2 sites
Lamen Bay, Epi Island
Turtle Island, Arore Island, Sanma Province
Ratua Resort, Aore Island
Total Cots culled via injection Gun or hook/bag: 4,300
– Promoting Awareness with Visiting Yacht Cruisers:
In collaboration with Eric & Ann Simmons, NZAid VSA Volunteers, Vanuatu Tourism Office, generated daily SSB radio net announcements for Vanuatu cruising yachts promoting COT data collection for the Dept. of Fisheries and VSOA as well as culling participation.
– “Crown of Thorns Starfish in Vanuatu” (working title). COT Mitigation training Video in production.
SPC-GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region & National Advisory Board on Climate Change:
IR disseminated print and video educational resources for Dr. Christopher Bartlett to over a dozen communities throughout Vanuatu. Integrated coral reef ecology and COT mitigation with climate change awareness and El Nino/La Nina weather impacts in school and community multimedia presentations. Video documentation of the Nguna-Pele MPA Coral Gardening Project.
Coral Gardening Project: Tanoliu Primary School, with Wan Smolbag’s Vanua Tai director Donald James, Peace Corp volunteer Robert Lee (North Efate): Established 3 mobile, educational coral garden frames, donated by IR along with 5 snorkel packs. The frames were assembled, stocked with coral fragments and sited within the Tanoliu taboo conservation reef with Tanoliu primary students, alongside their giant clam project. Ongoing project development will be led by Vanua Tai director Donald James and Robert Lee.
Distributed 23 snorkel kits, donated to IR by Aqualung USA, to schools and Wan Smolbag Vanua-Tai environmental monitors throughout the islands.
Completed 29 GoPro HD Geo-Referenced Coral Reef Benthic Substrate Video Transects and 2 Reefcheck surveys, filling in core data gaps for government and private sector concerns on reef health and COT distribution in Vanuatu
60 Kilos general medical supplies distributed at the request of Michael Schugg, Director,Vanuatu Society of Disabled People to:
* Marae Village medical outpost, Emae Island
* Emae Island Primary School Clinic
* Lutes clinic, Maskelyne Islands
* Lamen Bay clinic, Epi Island
* Lamap Medical Center, Malakula
* Vao Island clinic, Malakula Island
* Bwatnapni medical Clinic, Pentecost Island
* Ranputor medical outpost, Pentecost Island
* Ranon medical outpost, Ambrym Island
Additional training, research, and volunteerism:
RV Llyr First Mate and EMT Connor Steele-McCutchen & 2nd Mate Rowan Steele-McCutchen advance dive training to PADI Rescue Divers in Luganville, Santo.
Site visit with Pierro Bianchessi, Director of the Venui Vanilla Company, Espirito Santo , investigating permaculture farming, marketing, and conservation challenges in Vanuatu.
Connor Steele-McCutchen volunteered with Promedical Ambulance and the Port Vila Hospital.
Summary of Videos published or in current production onboard RV Llyr:
Island Reach introductory video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOH2OpfKDBE
350 Vanuatu, Pacific Climate Warriors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqixK_V1DS8
Buninga Water Security Project, video documentation for Live & Learn Vanuatu
Loru Forest Carbon Project, video documentation for Live & Learn Vanuatu
Crown of Thorn Starfish in Vanuatu
IR ongoing expedition and capacity-building activities including food security and climate change adaptation
IR transit to Vanuatu video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzkGX7ljVg0