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OceansWatch - Vanuatu Trip, opportunities to get involved

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 02, 2009 09:25 AM

Published: 2009-06-02 09:25:34
Topics: Environment
Countries: Vanuatu

OceansWatch members are finalising plans to join together in Vanuatu to undertake reef surveying work with OceansWatch marine biologist Natalie Riddler and others.

This year sees the first project of this nature undertaken by OceansWatch. It will give yacht-owning members an opportunity to join OceansWatch in the conservation work being done with remote communities in the Pacific. It also gives our non-yacht-owning members a chance to contribute and share their skills with the cruising members.

This trip is being organised by Marine Biology graduate Natalie Riddler, who has spent the last couple of months preparing for the trip at the OceansWatch office near Tutukaka, Northland, New Zealand.

Preparation has included updating her First Aid skills, learning Reef Check surveying methodologies and hearing about how OceansWatch operates.

This year three yachts have committed to hosting Natalie and her dive buddy for various sections of the Vanuatu project. Initially Natalie will have another Marine Biologist, Emily Duder from New Zealand supporting her and Natalie is still sorting through many other applicants for the latter part of the season.

Host yachts this year are likely to be: Nathanial and Betsy on Bahatai, Isabelle and Schelmi on the beautiful new Wharram 46 Waka Taitea and Reef Check trained members David and Gail on Fifth Season. Assisting the team will be Sam from Ramprasad, Ritchie from Ka Pai and Russell from Rustler if he can get his huge job list finished in time!

This will be the second visit to Vanuatu by OceansWatch, after their successful 2008 campaign aboard Magic Roundabout. Once again OceansWatch will be assisting the Vanuatu Fisheries department and working closely with Reef Check Vanuatu representative Katie Thomson. Last year Magic Roundabout visited five communities. This year those communities will have repeat visits for more detailed survey work and some new surveys will be carried out on the reefs in other areas, mainly north of the capital, Port Villa and as far north as the Banks Islands.

The first week in Vanuatu will be spent near Port Vila accompanied by the Magic Roundabout team, on route to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In Port Vila the OceansWatch teams will undertake more Reef Check training and Cleo Pandelaers, the 2009 SCUBA instructor will also be running a PADI Open Water training course for Vanuatu fisheries staff.

After the training week Magic Roundabout heads to the Solomon Islands whilst the Vanuatu team will move to Havanah Harbour, North Efate to repeat the surveys OceansWatch did in 2008.

Epi is likely to be the next stop, responding to a request for a visit in 2008. The team will then head north for repeat surveys in Pentacost and Maewo and new survey sites will be visited as the OceansWatch flotilla heads up to the Banks Islands.

If anyone is interested in being a part of this trip a vacancy still exists to assist Natalie in September/October. You need to be an experienced diver, preferably a sailor too and have marine biology or similar academic qualifications. Apply to [email protected] or read more about OceansWatch at