Seacology: Conserving Island Environments & Cultures
This video is an introduction to Seacology, highlighting the origins of the organization, the work we do now to conserve island environments, as well as our exciting travel program.
Protecting the Iguanas of San Salvador, The Bahamas
In 2011, Seacology funded the construction of an iguana 'head start' facility, which is currently allowing the critically endangered San Salvador iguanas to safely repopulate.
In August 2011, Seacology hosted an expedition to Felemea Village in Tonga, where Seacology is funding the refurbishment of an existing community hall and its facilities in support of the protection of two Fish Habitat Reserves totaling 368 acres for a duration of 10 years. As always, the expedition was an amazing experience for everyone involved, and included activities such as swimming with majestic humpback whales and taking part in local festivities.
Seacology Executive Director Duane Silverstein recently joined Seacology supporters on a dive trip in the Philippines. In addition to exploring the Philippines' vibrant coral reefs, they visited a Seacology project on Palawan Island, where Seacology worked with the El Nido Foundation, a local NGO, to set aside 1,317 acres of coral reef and 2,580 acres of mangrove forest. Seacology provided funds for guardhouses, patrol boats, marker buoys, and signs for the new reserve, as well as new equipment for their cashew processing industry, a sustainable alternative livelihood to fishing in the protected area.
Seacology's current project on Nanumea calls for the refurbishment of a handicraft center in exchange for the establishment of a two-acre lagoon-based mangrove nursery/reserve and the planting of 1,000 mangrove seedlings along a one kilometer (.62 mile) coastline for a duration of 10 years. Executive Director Duane Silverstein recently traveled to Nanumea with a Seacology travel expedition. This video outlines the Nanumea project along with the results of Duane's expedition.
Ketei Village is 20 miles from the nearest town. The village’s 200 residents have below-average incomes, even by Fijian standards. Seacology is funding the construction of a much-needed community center for the village in exchange for an agreement to preserve 900 acres of pristine forest, home to the threatened endemic yasiyasi tree, for a period of 20 years.
Seacology's Nukubalavu Village, Fiji project
Nukubalavu is located on Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji. By Fijian standards it is a relatively large village with a population of 300. The village holds the title of Tui Na Savasavu, which is the highest title in land of Savusavu. Seacology is funding the construction of a new preschool building. In exchange, the villagers have agreed to increase their current reserve from 3,200 acres to 25,600 acres as a no-take zone for a duration of 20 years.
Moorea is a high volcanic island in the Society Islands group of French Polynesia. The island is 84 square miles and has a population of about 16,000. In the last 20 years population pressure has resulted in over-fishing of the nearshore waters. The U.C. Berkeley Gump Research Station on Moorea has begun working with a local NGO, Te Pu Atitia, to create a cultural center to promote the development of conservation programs based on the combination of traditional knowledge and modern science. In exchange for Seacology helping to fund construction of the center, Atitia will work with the local population to enforce no take provisions in 2,394 acres of marine reserve in the Moorea Lagoon. Additionally Atitia will begin the collection and propagation of native plants used for traditional medicine.
Manado Tua Island is a towering extinct volcano fringed with picturesque reef drop-offs and capped with a rainforest at its summit. The island's 3,200 inhabitants form a very tightly-knit community of farmers and fishermen who cling tenaciously to their Sangir cultural traditions. Large sections of Manado Tua's coral reef have been reduced to rubble fields due to blast fishing activities that took place over a decade ago. With Seacology's assistance, Manado Tua villagers have installed EcoReef modules, snowflake-shaped ceramic modules that are designed to mimic branching corals, providing shelter to fish and a surface for larval corals to build a new reef. In return, villagers have expanded their current "no-take" reef zones to include five acres of reef containing the EcoReef modules. USAID's Natural Resources Management Project and dive operators from the North Sulawesi Watersports Association did all the coordination and installation of EcoReefs for this project.
Seacology's Sarinbuana, Bali project
Sarinbuana is a small farming village positioned 2,200 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mount Batukaru. Traditionally, the people of Sarinbuana have been the de facto custodians of a 1,975-acre section of intact rainforest above their village. The people of Sarinbuana are willing to formally endorse their role as guardians of the forest and protect it from all extractive activities. In exchange, Seacology will provide funds to construct a library/music/dance building and provide computers and musical instruments for the Sarinbuana primary school. Seacology will also provide funds for signage and a natural stepping stone pathway to an important Balinese temple located within the forest.
Because of hunting for bushmeat, uncontrolled fires and logging, many roosts of the Madagascar Flying Fox, which are important pollinators, have disappeared. In Madagascar's Mangoro Region, a close network of 12 small forest fragments holds up to 4,000 of these bats. Seven nearby communities are working with local organizations Arongam-panihy - Culture, Communication and Environment (ACCE), and Lamin'asa Fiarovana Ramanavy sy Fanigy to implement a dina, or social contract, to protect the roosts. In exchange for this agreement, Seacology will provide funding for badly-needed repairs to each of the seven community municipal offices and 20 primary schools near the roosts.
Seacology's southern Madagascar project
The Manafiafy Forest in Southeast Madagascar's Sainte Luce area is one of the last remaining stands of littoral forest in the country and is home to critically endangered palms, birds and the rare brown collared lemur. Azafady, an organization based in the U.K., has been asked by villagers in the Sainte Luce area to facilitate the transfer of control over the 1,730-acre forest, in which the community wishes to ban all commercial exploitation. Members of the community who patrol the area and act as guides are forced to spend up to six hours per day getting to and from the forest, and do not have a base from which to coordinate their activities. Seacology is working with Azafady to construct four forest stations within the protected area.
Seacology's Mt. Angavokely, Madagascar project
Mt. Angavokely is situated 22 kilometers east of the capital city of Antananarivo. It is one of the last remaining relicts of high-altitude rainforest in all of Madagascar, and is home to over 120 species of rare and endangered orchids. The forest is an important watershed for three local communities totaling over 20,000 inhabitants. In 1999 Seacology began working with the Malagasy environmental organization ARCVERT, faculty from the University of Antananarivo and Uppsala University, and the Service des Stations Forestières to establish a 695 hectare (1,717 acres) national park. The creation of this park will not only preserve one of the last remaining tracts of high-altitude forest left in Madagascar and protect over 120 species of rare and endangered orchids, it will also provide recreational opportunities to Antananarivo residents.
The territory claimed by the Comca'ac nation (Seri tribe) is extensive and includes Tiburon, which is also the largest island of Mexico (298,593 acres). In 1975, the Mexican government gave the Comca'ac tribe recognition and communal property title to Tiburon Island, Canal Infiernillo (between Tiburon Island and the mainland) and 155 miles of coast. In 1978 the islands within the Comca'ac territory became part of the Natural Protected Area "Islands of the Gulf of California," consolidating a 1963 presidential decree that designated it a nature preserve; it is also co-administered as an ecological preserve by the environmentally-oriented Comca'ac tribal government. Tiburon Island remains one of the most intact examples of Sonoran Desert habitat, and it contains an abundance of species that are already rare or have disappeared from the mainland. The waters around this island host 34 marine mammal species, including sea lions, blue and fin whales and the world's most endangered cetacean, a small porpoise called the vaquita. Five species of sea turtles thrive in these waters, and green turtles nest on these beaches. The Comca'ac villages at Punta Chueca, and El Desemboque on mainland Sonora, are home to up to 700 Comca'ac who traditionally practice environmental conservation. Seacology will fund a series of signs located on several islands and on the beaches on the mainland where fishermen land and depart to fish, in support of the continuation of the Comca'ac conservation actions on their islands. It is expected that these signs will help to reduce the impact of the human activities on the island, and reduce the chances of exotic species being introduced, accidentally or intentionally. As well, the two communities will receive funds to build a facility to separate and collect their domestic trash for later recycling by commercial companies from the city of Hermosillo.