Ditto dela Rosa is our EDGE Corals Fellow, who works with local governments, academia, community-based organizations and NGOs in the Philippines. One of his projects is ‘Conservation of Mushroom Coral in the Polillo Islands‘, which will act as a flagship for broader coral and marine conservation action.
I’m temporarily working at the Conservation Programme office of ZSL in London. I’ll be staying for four and a half days to update the EDGE team on my project and talk about the opportunities and challenges.
I’ve just finished a three-week training at School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University for another project about fish extirpations that I’m involved in funded by the Darwin Initiative and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It’s a partnership between the Haribon Foundation, Newcastle University and the Ateneo de Manila University. We reviewed the entire project as proposed and discussed in detail how effectively to implement the social and underwater surveys, the changes in project design, database design, the use of R and statistical analysis with it, among other things.
So now I’m here at ZSL. I was given the opportunity to have a look at the London Zoo Aquarium on my first day by Rachel Jones, the London Zoo’s Senior Aquarist. I was honoured to have a look at the Aquarium, which was built in the 1920s, at the exhibition hall and the rooms behind them. I also met the technicians who’ve worked very hard to properly care for the aquatic life. Rachel also spent time on giving me a short background on the freshwater conservation work of ZSL in mainland Europe, Middle East and Mexico on the different species of killifishes and pupfishes and the importance of conserving these species. I had my first look at the EDGE species elegance coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) on display and at the tanks in the back which I haven’t seen in the wild yet. I’ve also seen the pearl bubble coral (Physogyra lichtensteini) but no mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis).
This week I gave a presentation to ZSL staff about my EDGE Corals project in the Philippines on my second day, which gave me the chance to introduce the Haribon Foundation and my work, as well as providing a brief overview of what’s been happening with my EDGE Coral project. The EDGE Team were all there, and Catherine Head (who ran the EDGE coral reef training course in 2011) and Heather Koldewey (Head of Global Programmes) were also present and gave me an opportunity to catch up with them about the project and all things Philippines.
I was also able to meet and consult with some of the ZSL staff to help me improve the tools for the project. I had a meeting with the Education Department to develop the awareness raising strategy for the EDGE Corals in Burdeos. Sarah, Paul and Cas gave me important pointers on different activities for the schools and selected communities in Burdeos.
All in all I had a very productive one month stay in the UK!