Thursday
Apr102014

Marine life

Here's just some the beautiful marine life we've encountered this month.

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Happy Birthday!

Lots of colour and fun for this little fellas birthday which we were lucky enough to attend!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Luckily...

...work never feels too much like work out here in Cambodia...

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Wish you were here?

The island is full of perfect spots like this to sling a hammock :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Beautiful sunset

And this has to happen... everyday....

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Principal Investigator Blog: Blue Planet LIVE

It was the end of a survey and I was floating in the deliciously warm, yet still refreshingly cool, briny blue sea over House Reef as Gen took the final depth measurement of the day.  I was gazing at a grouper when suddenly, Gen shouts for me.  In two quick strokes, I reach her and glance around.  To my amazement, it is a huge cuttlefish!  And then another, and another!  Two large males (~2 feet long) and a slightly smaller female, and not one of them cares in the slightest that Gen and I are a mere foot or two away. 

Jenn and Gen!

We have stumbled into an epic cuttlefish battle, and it’s over the right to ‘befriend’ the lady.  Gen and I drift in the current watching the battle royal, complete with flashing color displays as the males demonstrate their aggression through pigment cells in their skin.  Suddenly, the challenger male decides that he’s done with trying to be polite.  He jets over to the female and envelopes her roughly with his tentacles.  Distraught, she releases a large cloud of ink.  Her male rushes to her side and disentangles her, though she looks a little worse for wear.  The challenger male slinks away.

Just when I think the excitement is over, he’s back again for round two.  All three cuttlefish are flashing madly and it’s now clear that the female wants nothing to do with the challenger.  Between the ink and the colors, it has become quite the show.  Gen and I watch in amazement from front row seats, a mere foot from the action.  Twenty-five minutes later, the challenger admits defeat and slowly slinks off along the bottom of the sea.  He turns a bright, speckled white color that allows him to blend perfectly with the sand and soon after, he is indistinguishable from his surroundings. 

Gen and I head back to shore with huge grins on our faces.  Just another day at the office, I guess :)

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Volunteer Blog: Charlotte Parker - One Final Blog

9 weeks in and I have had to start saying my goodbyes… Where has the time gone?! Can’t believe I am starting to think about packing, hopefully it will be much less stressful than my pre-departure pack; one positive outcome of being clumsy is that from having to look after my many minor foot injuries, my med kit has now halved in size. SHOPPING SPACE! :D

Charlotte with the team (second from left)

Being part of the Cambodia Marine Project has definitely made me appreciate the need to conserve coral reefs and marine life, and the dedication, time and effort people have for the research. I never thought I would get so attached to fish; but when being offered a bit of Golden Rabbitfish at a beach party I did cry a little bit inside, politely decline and whisper to Jenn “I counted one of those on the survey today…”

There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t had a constant smile on my face. Even when on surveys with a snorkel stuffed in my mouth I am smiling and drowning myself when watching Toi do a bit of dive slate wafting to try and move the Diadema (Sea Urchin) away from the Giant Clam. Laughing underwater in a mask is not advisable, I think they should have that in the Health and Safety section of your mask instruction booklet; it does not stay sucked to your face!

My time here has been unpredictably perfect, meeting so many amazing people who have given me endless opportunities and have taught me so much. M’Pai Bai village now feels like my second home and everyone in the Frontier house are not only unforgettable friends, but my mish-mash family.

In Cambodia you never say goodbye as you never know when you might see them again; so M’Pai Bai village, Koh Rong Samloem, my little paradise home, SEE YOU LATER!

By Charlotte Parker, Marine volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Apr072014

Kadow!

April is hotting up the team is still dedicated to their beach conservation work!

Happy helper :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Apr072014

Who you gonna call?!

Cambodia marine team looking strong!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr022014

ARO Blog: Gen Labram

The coming of April heralds the beginning of the hot/dry season here in Cambodia, and it is delicious. Whilst reports of rain and wind have reached my ears about my hometown, here temperatures never dip below 30˚c, the only rain is accompanied by incredible thunder lightning displays and the water we survey in is as warm as a bath.  Today is more overcast, and we use this to our advantage by picking litter from the beach. This is a really important activity because it reduces the amount of waste that could enter the ocean and get eaten by all sorts of creatures - our last clean included the removal of over 130 plastic straws!

With the good deed done, its back in the water, surveying the beautiful reefs that surround the island I’ve come to call home. Every trip out holds potential to see something awesome, something new; and with the recent discovery that there are two types of small harmless shark species nearby, each snorkel is more exciting than the last!

By Gen Labram, marine ARO

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Volunteer Blog: Balloons for a Birthday Bonanza!

This week’s blog is a little different; if I wrote an account of my birthday weekend it would be novel sized, so here is a list of 10 things that made my 19th super special:

- Toi waking at 6am to decorate the porch with balloons, making me my morning coffee and then presenting me with a shell encasing a beautiful seahorse necklace (Not a real one, although it was pretty intense opening the shell to the words “Charlie eat seahorse for medicine!”…) He is such a joker! ;)

- Opening my cards, birthday messages and presents from family and friends at home whilst munching on my birthday breakfast noodles.

- Being presented a tube of Jackers (Pringles) by Toi’s friends from Koh Smach – I have been craving crisps for weeks so this was one of the best birthday gifts ever!

- Taking the Island Hopper with Jenn over to Sihanoukville to celebrate my birthday in style.

- Being reunited with Gen UK! :D

- Having a massive room with a double bed, fans, a flushing toilet AND a shower with a head. MIND BLOWN!

- Eating Bangers & Mash with onion gravy and garden peas... AAAAAHHHHH...

- Meeting up with some of Toi’s friends from Sihanoukville, who brought balloons and a personalised birthday cake (one of them is a pro baker). When I found that the icing tastes like marshmallows, I literally died and went to heaven…

- Having a little shopping spree at the market the next day.

- Chilling out at a bar on the beach front, breeze in my hair, drinking a Gin and Tonic with some of the best people I have ever met.

Oh and of course, generally being here, in Cambodia… that’s pretty special. (If I don’t bullet point it I don’t have to count it in my 10… ;) )

By Charlotte Parker, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Mar272014

Volunteer Blog: Charlotte Parker

As part of my BTEC, I am carrying out my own project of comparing the abundance and size of giant clams on the two reefs, one being under conservation and the other open for fishing.  

To collect the data, I have to swim along the set transect until I spot a giant clam, take down the distance along the transect, and dive down and measure the clams length.  Simple enough… if you have any sort of body coordination!

Coming back after my first survey looking slightly beaten up, Toi is now my research partner.  First time he comes out he only manages to watch my technique:  dive down head first, breath out through the snorkel to sink, and frog leg wildly until I eventually get the length or run out of breath.  He watches a couple of times before very politely asking if he could take the tape and have a go.  

We find another giant clam, and with all the ease and grace of a feather floating to the ground Toi sinks to the seabed, perches in a Tarzan stance and within a few seconds is back up and showing me the tape so I can record it on my slate.  Why wasn’t I taught this in my 7 years of swimming lessons?!  Toi, learning to swim around a year ago, just put my level 12 swimming badge totally to shame.  

A few surveys in and we are totally on it.  Now both having a tape measure, Toi continues on doing his thing and I look less like a drowning frog.  And I can write on the dive slate like nobody can!

By Charlotte Parker, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Mar272014

Principal Investigator Blog: nom, nom, nom...

What an amazing week of food it has been here on Koh Rong Samloem.  Pizza has finally graced us with its presence, hot out of the brand new pizza oven built by the guys that own the Easy Tiger Guesthouse down the way.  And it is delicious!  Further fueling my foodie fantasies, I was lucky enough to attend a Cambodian wedding earlier this week.  That was full of delectable dishes as well - all kinds of different meats and new vegetables.  Our food is pretty good at CMM, but we don’t have meat or cheese.  Between pizza and wedding food, all my cravings have been fully satisfied this week.  

The wedding had other highlights besides the culinary.  At a Cambodian wedding, there are many outfit changes for both the bride and the groom.  Not to mention, they color coordinate with each one.  There was also quite a bit of dancing.  All in all, a night to remember!

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Mar242014

March in M'Pai Bai 

A few snaps from March...

Hugh eats a fish eye!

Mangrove trekking!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Mar172014

Beautiful sunsets

Beautiful sunsets and sunrises...

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Mar122014

VOLUNTEER BLOG: CHARLOTTE PARKER

Morning survey.  Check.  Pitfall traps.  Check.  It is 2:00PM, Hugh’s last day and an afternoon off schedule.  Gently swinging side to side in a hammock and getting pretty dreamy when Jenn’s phone breaks the silence with Toi inviting the three of us down to Long Beach to meet his friends from back home (the island of Koh Smach) and try the fish that they had caught on the four hour journey over that morning.  How could we refuse?!

Arrive at the perfect picnic spot to a tarpaulin laid out with bowls of ceviche, salad and two amazing homemade dips.  The feast begins.  Stoking up the chimney barbeque and skewering the whole fish (a long fin trevally to be precise) on a stick, I whisper to Jenn and Hugh my confession…I haven’t liked fish for about 10 years so apologize in advance if my belly treats it like a foreign body.  

But to my surprise I happily dig in, gorging ourselves on the beautiful meat and skin until our bellies are bulging.  In Cambodia they eat the whole fish, and by that they mean all of it, insides and all!  Particular favorites are the fish eggs and eyes so with a bit of encouragement, as Toi put it, ‘Charlie eat one million fish!’

We left Hugh to be the man and take the eye.  ‘Muy, Be, Bai’ and in it goes… apparently, the taste is ok but the texture is like warm jelly.  I will stick to cold jelly and ice cream, thanks  

By Charlotte Parker, Volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Mar122014

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR BLOG: HAPPINESS IS...

If you aren’t me, it sucks to be you. Just kidding. I’m sure that many people are really happy to be wherever they are, but it is hard for me to imagine wanting to be anywhere besides exactly where I am right now: on the porch of the Frontier Cambodia Marine house, tucked into a hammock with my laptop on my lap while writing. 

I’m laughing over the first line of this blog with Charlotte, one of the many amazing people I have met in my time here so far, while she enters fish data from our survey earlier today into the logbook.  The sun is setting, coloring everything in golden shades of soft pink, and the air is exactly the right temperature with a slight, cool breeze running through my hair.  Our local staff member, Toi, is cooking us dinner tonight and it’s one of my favorite Cambodian dishes - a spicy, flavorful soup made with vegetables and glass noodles.  Delicious smells float out from the kitchen and surround my hammock.  Wish you were here!

By Jenn Reitz, Marine Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Mar052014

February Trail at CMM!

 

 Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Mar042014

Volunteer Blog: Charlotte Parker

The ‘Goodbye Weekend’ started as early as Thursday night; you know it is an occasion when everyone washes their hair with shampoo AND conditioner! With everyone dressed up and smelling of eau de DEET, we arm ourselves with head torches, two packs of cards, and a whole $3 for a big night on the M’Pai Bai strip.  Dancing the night away (past 8:30 is an impressive effort) with the whole trail, including Izzy and the MCC crew, I suddenly realize how much fun I have had this past month, how lovely everyone is and how much I am going to miss them. 

Friday afternoon finally arrives, with the house stripped of mosquito nets, roll mats and 8 backpacks, this house is surprisingly spacey!  However, there is sadness after our goodbyes, as once more, it is time to celebrate Gen’s time on the island so once again, the shampoo is used, the mascara is applied and Gen, Jenn Hugh and I head down to Sunset to watch, well, the sunset and have dinner.  Sipping my fresh limejuice on a cloudless evening, watching a fishing boat move across the flat horizon whist the sun slowly dips into the sea, I can’t imagine how this could be topped.  Then I became Tinkerbelle under the stars in the phosphorescence.  A definite night to remember. 

Another day, another goodbye. One last morning survey before we are walking Gen to the Island Hopper, holding back the tears and waving her off as she does ‘a Titanic.’  Gen, you will be missed.  With Hugh leaving Monday, Sunday afternoon is called off schedule, and what an afternoon that turned out to be!  Being up there in best life moments, it is worthy of my next blog. 

3:30PM Monday 3rd March, Toi, Jenn and I say our last goodbye to Hugh, setting off to go eat pizza in Sihanoukville before heading on his major adventure.  So, guys, you better have an amazing time on the rest of your travels as the shredded pork noodles are missing their morning munch… and maybe Charlotte misses you a little bit, too. 

By Charlotte Parker, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Mar042014

Principal Investigator Blog: Fantastic February

February was an AMAZING month here at Frontier Cambodia Marine on Koh Rong Samloem.  This island has absolutely become home, and I grow closer each day to the wonderful people that live here and the incredible volunteers that Frontier sends my way to help out with the marine research. 

We hosted several members of the Southeast Asia Trail for the month, and had a great time both in and out of the water.  Highlights include the many porcupine fish, ray and octopus sightings we were treated to, as well as our gigantic resident pufferfish making an appearance on a survey.  We also saw a few types of fish, starfish and nudibranchs that have never been seen on this project before.  Out of the water, we celebrated RA Caitlin’s birthday with cheeseburgers, homemade Banoffee Pie and a trip to the gorgeous white sands of Saracen Bay.  Never in my life have I seen so much perfectly soft, perfectly white unblemished sand.  We ended the month with a goodbye party for the trail, where we went to one of the local bars and danced the night away.  All in all, definitely a month to remember!

By Jenn Reitz, Marine Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

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