Early this month, three students from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) joined us for a conservation expedition to Banggai Island. The main program to which they contributed their time was helping to trial the use of metal frames, which are called “spiders”, for reef rehabilitation in Bone Baru. This type of structure has been successfully used for reef rehabilitation in the Spermonde Islands (South Sulawesi). The trial site is in Bone Baru, a village where we implement most of our conservation activities. Many of the reefs surrounding the Banggai Islands have been badly damaged due to the use of destructive fishing techniques. The areas are also home to an endemic, endangered reef fish, the Banggai cardinalfish (BCF). The purpose of rebuilding the reef habitats around Bone Baru is to help the recovery of the BCF populations, because, besides the destruction of many BCF habitats, the populations have also declined significantly in the last 10 years as a result of over-collection for the aquarium trade.
The conservation expedition was financed by the Hong Kong Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, which has also funded LINI to implement its project in Banggai since 2016. Through this project, we have been able to monitor the populations of the BCF and their natural distribution in Banggai. The information gained has provided data for the Government to make appropriate policies that support the conservation of the BCF. Recently, our local community partners in Bone Baru installed a community-based captive breeding Centre for Banggai cardinalfish, which also functions as a marine conservation learning Centre. The students Jack, Xandra, and Harry helped to work on some of the construction of this Centre, and also assisted in monitoring BCF populations in Liang (Peleng Island), where numbers have declined steeply, due largely to over-collection of the main BCF microhabitats, which are sea urchins and anemones.
We are planning to organize more Banggai expeditions in 2018. If you are interested in joining one of these expeditions, and want to help us to carry out our conservation work in Banggai, please contact us at email@example.com. It will enrich you with a unique conservation experience, and you will also have fun when working with the local communities in Banggai!
Les village is known for its marine ornamental fishing tradition, for both the local and overseas markets. In the 1980s, and early 2000s potassium cyanide was extensively used because of its effectiveness in catching fish. As a result, coral reef habitat sin the Les area were severely damaged, and lost much of their biodiversity. In an effort to rehabilitate the damaged reefs, the LINI Aquaculture and Training Centre (LATC) has deployed more than 2,000 artificial reef structures on the old reef flat, and many more structures are being added as time goes by. These three-dimensional structures have enhanced the reef significantly. Two of LINI’s latest interns, Anthony and Dewi, have been conducting regular artificial reef monitoring surveys to gain more understanding about the improvements our artificial reef structures are helping to create.
Currently, we have two on-going reef monitoring programs. First is the artificial reef coral recruitment survey. We counted the number of hard and soft coral structures, tunicates, sponges, and sea fans that grow on selected artificial reef structures at various depths. The data were used to compare the biodiversity on artificial reef structures that are located at 5 – 7 meters depth with those at 10 – 12 meters depth. In the second program, we tagged several hard coral structures, and measured how much they grow every week. We measure the sizes of the tagged corals, (length or width) depending on the species. Then we compare growth rates of corals growing at different depths. These monitoring programs are research-based activities, meaning that we are required to develop a research question with a scientifically-robust methodology. This information can be applied to help us decide on to how to improve placement of our artificial reefs on the sea bed, and more generally, to gain more knowledge about marine science. We hope that these studies will help us to determine the most effective depths at which we need to deploy our artificial reef structures in the sea around Les.
We are looking for dive volunteers to assist us in our reef monitoring programs. If you are interested in helping us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not need to have a background in marine science to be able to help us, as training will be given prior to conduct the monitoring.