© 2016 Lindsay Cope

Philippine Women’s University visits Calatagan

I have been communicating with the faculty of the Philippine Women’s University ever since September.  My good friend Angel put me in touch with the environmental studies faculty and we began to plan a field trip for the students.

The aim of the trip was to provide an opportunity for students to be exposed to the coastal ecosystems.  Despite their studies in fisheries and coastal marine management, many of the students had not spent much time in the mangrove, seagrass, and coral habitats.

The group arrived on April 12 and visited the Enrique Zobel Museum to learn more about the history of Calatagan.  On April 13, the students arrived in Barangay Gulod for a full day of exposure. Our morning started with a lecture about the coastal ecosystems and the national and local legal framework managing these areas. Then the students got to snorkel in the mangroves, where we observed translucent juvenile fish and some crabs among the roots of the rhizophora.







DCIM100GOPROAfter an exciting underwater sightseeing adventure, we enjoyed lunch on the floating house over the seagrass bed. Lunch prepared by Calataganda Tours is always a delicious array of seafood and veggies. Everyone had healthy appetites after exploring the mangroves.




After digesting lunch, the students snorkeled around the seagrass before a lecture on corals. Then we made our way to the reef where the students, mostly first time snorkelers, were able to enjoy the water and observe the corals.

I was enjoying my new fins and free diving around the reef when I swam right into a sea snake!  I didn’t notice it as I was following a wrasse, but then I saw it, coiled up in a coral, raising up as I approached.  When I spotted it, I yelped and maneuvered back toward the boat.  Apay, Jessie’s brother, witnessed the entire exchange and was thoroughly amused at my situation (the entire family continued to tease me the rest of the afternoon, but I didn’t mind, in truth it was a funny encounter). After teasing me, he alerted Jessie to the snake. He  and some of the more brave students were able to get a closer look.

At the end of the day, the student feedback was excellent.  They had all learned something to enhance their environmental studies, including the importance of community engagement, the interconnectedness of the three coastal ecosystems, and the lifecycle of marine species. It was a successful collaboration and we hope that the students of PWU will return again next year!



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