Category Archives: Enviroment

An interview with Anna Oposa: Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas

Who is Anna Oposa? As stated in her website’s biography:

“Anna R. Oposa is a multi-hyphenate changemaker, being a writer, speaker, and project manager, though she is best known as the co-founder and “Chief Mermaid” of “Save Philippine Seas (SPS)”. SPS is a movement to protect the country’s coastal and marine resources through information, communication, and education campaigns and community-based projects.”

anna Oposa

We were fortunate enough to meet Anna Oposa when she came to dive with us at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, here in Moalboal. She is a momentous inspiration to us all with her resolute devotion to ocean conservation. Through creating a website/petition (savephilippineseas.org) in an attempt to raise awareness of the atrocities occurring to the environment due to ignorance and negligence, it was not long before it turned into a movement as a result of being fueled by members sharing equal passion. With such drive it is unsurprising what she has achieved, playing a key part in getting the thresher shark listed as a protected species in the CITES convention which took place in October 2016.  In addition, through educating children and adults alike in the long term effects their direct actions cause and suggesting alternatives so that a harmonious relationship with nature may one day become a reality.

As divers we too share in Anna’s love of the ocean and is something we aim to convey to whomever may walk into our centre. Through a collective understanding and respect towards nature in general it’s almost unfathomable what together we can accomplish in terms of preservation and even growth!

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

 

Here is what Anna Oposa had to say in response to the questions we asked:

May you explain a little what your company is about?

“Save Philippine Seas (SPS) started in 2011 in response to an illegal wildlife trade case called the ‘Rape of the Philippine Seas,’ in which tons of protected species such as turtles and corals were seized. A handful of people who did not know each other, but met online because of this issue, decided to start a social media campaign called SPS. I was the youngest one in the group, just fresh out of college – only graduating a month before. When the issue died down, I continued with the advocacy, but first as a passion project. In 2013, we decided to register it as an NGO out of necessity—we were getting more and more donations and sponsorships and needed to be a legal entity.

This year, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. Half a decade! I still can’t believe it sometimes. We have two major projects, Shark Shelter, which is based in Daanbantayan, Cebu, to conserve and protect the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary; and the Sea and Earth Advocates Camp, which is an environmental education and leadership program for Filipino youth in partnership with the U.S. government and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.”

 

What motivates you?

There are many motivations, and it depends on the situation that I’m in. Sometimes, I am motivated because I am angry that the people who are supposed to be doing their job to protect our seas are not doing it. Other times, I’m motivated because I’m inspired by the people I work with, or the progress that we’re making.

My constant motivation is this: marine conservation makes sense for an archipelago with the richest marine life in the world, where millions of people depend on the sea for their livelihood and food. We take care of our sea, it takes care of us.

 

What is your favourite sea creature and why this specific one?

Oooh… For sentimental reasons, of course the thresher shark is the love of my life because I have spent so much blood, sweat, and tears trying to conserve them and elevate their status in the Philippines. They are beautiful, graceful creatures.

I also really, really love seeing soft corals. It feels like I’m in an underwater meadow.

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

 

What can we do to help save the Philippine seas?

Step one is understanding how our daily choices are connected to the Philippine seas. That shampoo sachet and straw you’re using could end up in the sea. The sunblock you’re using could contribute to coral bleaching. By being able to connect that, you’re able to change your daily lifestyle choices, specifically reducing use of plastic or buying more eco-friendly personal care products.

 

Who or what is your source of inspiration?

I never run out of inspiration. There are so many people I look up to in this field, and I’m lucky that I not only get to work with them but call them some of my closest friends. When the going gets tough, it is so important to have your core group of friends to give you advice and encourage you to keep going. I am also constantly inspired by the communities and youth we’ve trained the last five years, and how they’ve grown and taken on so much.

 

Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?

This is an extremely difficult question that I don’t know the answer to. Haha! You see, five years ago, I would have never imagined myself running an NGO called Save Philippine Seas, raising funds to implement projects, and speaking front of hundreds of people and government officials to advocate for the protection of our seas. And yet here I am.

I don’t know where SPS will be in five years. I don’t even know if I’ll still be part of SPS in five years. I hope someone from the SEA Camp network becomes the next Executive Director of Save Philippine Seas. It would be such a big success indicator if someone we trained took over. I also dream about a sustainable funding source for SPS and to continue our two projects, just in a bigger scale and scope.

 

What is/are your goal(s)?

I have many, and my dreams for myself are all tied to my dreams for the Philippines. I want every single Filipino to love and care for the Philippine seas. I want the shark sanctuary we established in Daanbantayan to be a model for community-based eco-tourism. I want marine conservation to be part of the national curriculum. These are big dreams, I know, and they’re probably not going to be accomplished in my lifetime. But I’m sure going to die trying.

 

What is the proudest moment you feel you’ve achieved with your organization?

I am most proud that SPS serves as an enabling environment for empowerment to many people, especially young people. When I see the people we’ve worked with gain more interest and passion for this advocacy, and start initiatives of their own, I feel like such a stage mom! My job as the Chief Mermaid is to make sure the people we work with become better than me, and I’m sure they will be in no time J

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island

 

Dive Lo-ok, Moalboal

Lo-ok is a wall dive that contains some of the most pristine coral gardens in the area. So if you want to experience one of the best wall-dives in Moalboal you should request this site on your next diving vacation with Quo Vadis dive resort. If you stay shallow on this dive you will be rewarded with some of the healthiest reefs in this area. Trust me it’s like being a star in the movie Finding Nemo and who wouldn’t love to experienced that?

The beautiful coral garden of Lo-ok, Moalboal

The beautiful coral garden of Lo-ok, Moalboal

Witness thousands of small colourful reef fishes dancing around the corals. Here you will set your eyes on a variety of blennies, gobies, clownfishes and damsels. It’s just incredible to stay and watch the movement, shapes and colours of the reef. We often spot turtles resting among the corals, just waiting for you to have a closer look or to take a nice, close photo.

Turtle, Moalboal

The deeper part on this wall is filled with soft- and hard corals and together with healthy gorgonian sea-fans they are create a colour explosion. Take a closer look and you might get lucky to find a few gorgeous nudibranchs and why not an ugly frogfish? Sometimes we find batfish and trevallies strolling around in the deep. Some small critters also pay our dives a visit like ornate ghost pipefish and different species of crabs and shrimps.

Nudibranch, Moalboal

If times and budget allows, try to do two dives at Lo-ok, one to do the shallow  part and one for a deeper visit and when doing  the deeper part ask for nitrox if you are a nitrox diver or why not do the 1 day nitrox course since this maximise your bottom time at the deep part.

Lo-ok, Moalboal

Reached by a 15 min boat ride north direction from Quo Vadis dive Resort.

Conditions: Depending on the wind. Usually flat ocean with a mild current

Depth: 0 to 50 Meters

Visibility: 15 to 30 Meters

Quo Vadis Dive Clean-Up 2016

grupp-quoWhat a success our Dive Cleanup turned out to be! Quo Vadis Dive Resort manage to raise 1204 USD to Project Aware and with help of other passionate divers we also removed 118 kg of trash from the ocean bed during our Dive Cleanup at the 11th of October this year. We were 23 divers doing 2 dives and let me just say, our bags was overfilled. It’s such a good feeling picking plastic after plastic, fishing lines, cans and bottles from the reef knowing we are doing this for our ocean, together.

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Together with PADI, Project aware and all happy volunteer divers we made this happen and we are more than proud. The theme word of this day is just that: together, because we could never have done it alone. To talk, clean and share all this with people that is just as dedicated as we are is inspiring.

glada-dykare

The sardines was the first dive site we cleaned up and the site was overfilled with fishing lines, hooks, lines and ropes. While collecting the trash we were monitored by the enormous school of millions sardines, hovering over our heads making the day turn dark as they covered the sun. Not a bad clean-up dive.

simmar

The second dive was just by White beach where the white sand slopes down in the ocean turning into a colourful reef.  Between sea anemones, hard- and soft corals we could find everything from diapers, plastic and tires, to clothes, cans and bottles which all followed us up to White Beach to get weighted.

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At White beach we all enjoyed a nice BBQ together followed by some volleyball and the competition was fierce. There was also a trash competition and the winner got a nice price, but even more important, he alone removed over 39 kg of trash from the ocean.

vollyball-skraaaap

Picture from Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap

Due to the big success we decided to make this a annual event. There is plenty of garbage in the ocean waiting to get picked up and more money to be dedicated into project gaining our ocean, our planet. Go into http://www.projectaware.org to learn more about what you can do to help and also to read about their projects.

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Over and out and see you next year!

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Sustainable Fishing

How does your Facebook feed look like?

If your Facebook feed is covered in posts telling you about our ocean being covered in tons of plastic, what we can do about it, asking you to help saving our oceans, sharing posts from Project Aware, Sea Shepherd and PADI, informing you when our oceans will be empty from fish, letting you know how many sharks are killed by humans every year instead of the other way around, how turtles suffocate on plastic bags, how many marine spices gone extinct the last few years (and the list goes on and on.) These posts are most likely coming from that friend with the underwater profile picture. Your fellow diver.

And it’s true. We do care more about the ocean than most because we breath in it every day, right? We see what massive negative effects humans have on our water planet and we understand how important it is for us and our life on land.

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One thing Quo Vadis Dive Resort care about a little bit extra about today (and all other days) is how the increasing global demand for fish has pushed the oceans to its limits. For hundreds of years the fishermen have respected the ocean, only taking what he need. Today he don’t respect the ocean anymore and without any fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry the ocean will soon be empty.

One billion people (yes, you read it right) rely on fish as their biggest source for food. So you can just imagine the size of this issue we are facing. As consumers we need to stay informed on which fisheries are sustainable and which are not. We need to know which fish to buy and what progress is being made globally.

All life on our earth is linked to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you know about it the more dedicated you will be to help out. Read, talk and thirst for more knowledge.

Here is some links to help you get started. Read about what fish is on the menu and what fish better not be. http://www.goodfishguide.org/
http://wwf.panda.org/how_you_can_help/live_green/out_shopping/seafood_guides/

/Caroline and Charlie

 

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Souvenirs of the ocean

Think twice when you buy souvenirs on you holiday to bring  home to friends and family.

That dried sea horse you are holding in your hand once had a life on the reef, was a part of a perfect functional Eco system and now it’s an endangered species. It is as well one of the most beautiful creatures we as dive guides can show our guest here at Quo Vadis.

Dried seahorse

The colourful cone shell you are thinking of buying to your mum once had tenant, someone living in there and now we barely ever see them while diving. The sea star they sell in the souvenirs shop next to your hotel once was a part of the ocean floor and a highlight for snorkelers in the shallow waters. It can even be someones lunch.

Harlequin

When buying these products you create a demand for them. Don’t buy products that exploit unsustainable marine creatures. Corals may  look beautiful on a piece of jewellery but take my word for it, they look more stunning where they belong on the reef and they play an important role in the Eco system.

What should we bring?

We should bring pictures & stories up from the ocean. Then we can share it and show what other people are missing out on when they are spending all that precious time up at the surface.

You can start by sharing this post about where all the marine creatures belongs!

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