Friday, August 10, 2012

The Coral Reef Restoration Project: Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte

I have never travelled as much as I did, these past three months. The 6-hour boat ride and the 2 hour bus ride I take every Mondays and Fridays have become a routine. And although I keep coming back to one single destination, this is one spot I will never get tired of: Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte.

I've blogged about this before. But I'd like to tell you a little about what exactly I have been doing here. I come here for work. I plant corals for a living. And this time, I got real lucky because I was assigned right at this very spot. I could have been thrown to Boracay, or Batangas, or Panglao or hell, even to Tawi-tawi. But no, Sogod Bay was meant for me. And it was perfect. Away from the city. Good people. Breath taking sunsets. I could not ask for more.

So what does a regular work day look like. It usually starts out with breakfast, of course. With the volunteers around, breakfasts are usually rowdy and crowded and noisy. And in most times, there won't be enough plates around. So we eat in shifts. They come (or invade the site) every Wednesday. Aside from the extra hand, these people turn exhausting work into play. So Wednesdays have become my official favorite workday because they are around. =)

The project in a nutshell: we plant corals to rehabilitate one of the town's marine sanctuaries through asexual reproduction. We cut the corals into plantable sizes, and plant them in Coral Nursery Units.  It's pretty simple, yes. The challenge here now is that we need to plant 30 freakin' thousand of them. But then again, work is extremely fun so I don't mind the number at all. Divers start out by collecting broken coral fragments - which we use to plant in our coral nursery units. We get our corals from damaged coral fragments alone and leave the healthy colonies to grow undisturbed.

Project 7's Supermen underwater

Planters tie them to the coral nursery units on board a bamboo raft. These people can work in any kind of weather (yes, even in the middle of Typhoon Gener). So if you happen to pass by Padre Burgos and see a rowdy, noisy, sometimes violent-looking crowd on a bamboo raft floating right in the middle of Sogod Bay, that's us. =)

After this, we deploy the units to a designated nursery site. We grow these babies for 2 months before transferring them to a permanent rehabilitation site. I hope I do not sound too technical.

The job is tiring, but it's fun. And I have a lot of very good people around, which is always a huge plus. So I do not mind the 16 hour trip I make to the site and back every week. Waking up to this sight every morning for 5 days in a week is rewarding enough. So over all, I'm a pretty lucky girl. =)