Researchers on field again! | Jan 31st – Feb 3rd

Perhaps, it was a long break since our last trip (May 24th-29th)! Now, here we are, becoming islanders again. Since diving is weather-dependent, the long delay was because of the poor whether which led to poor visibility and it wasn’t our field season. Another reason would be……our schedules. It sounds as though we are never free. School schedules are hectic, students are busy catching their breath….so, that’s why. Anyways, we were back; that’s all that matters. 

After eight months, these young researchers covet to see their artificial reef and cluster improvementttt. They geared up, made a giant stride, descent, and saw nothing. Well, they saw sediments. The bad news: their artificial reef imploded and their cluster was cut. That’s so unpleasant after 8 months, don’t you think so? A possible theory made by one of MCC’s staffs was because of trawling. The net dragged the structure and, thus, 1/3 of it was buried in deep deep sediments. The cluster is gone. Perhaps, twice. We reattached and then it is gone, again.

Alright, that’s the update. Actually, we weren’t disappointed, just slightly I would say. Because that’s obviously a part of the research. Obstacles come and we strive; there’s no stopping. We learned, discussed, and planned for the future.

Comtemplating on this damaged structure wasn’t the only thing we did during this trip. We built more cluster, did beach clean up, built a plastic boat, did some fun dives, and watch the beautiful sunsets. It didn’t stop us from being productive. I never doubt this team’s efficiency.

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Back in the water!
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First time spotting batfish!
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That’s the plastic boat I mentioned. On our way to test it out! FYI, it worked, 75%.

Back to school, we had a fruitful discussion about our future plan; what should we do on this damaged structure. And yes, we have a plan. Want to know what it is? You’ll need to read my next post.

Going Back | May 24th-29th

Going back home! We were welcomed warmly by MCC for our return. This trip is probably the last for the rest of the year. We’ve learned a lot!

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do any underwater survey due to the overwhelming destructive fishing. With bad visibility, we can’t do any survey. However, we took this opportunity to get our heads on dolphins survey, cluster, and work on some presentations. 

According to what we’ve seen this trip, to everybody who thinks that we shouldn’t care about the ocean, put your head down there and see the destruction that human made. Because compare to deforestation, the destruction is much more visible while we can’t really see the destruction underwater. This trip has forced us to step out of our comfort zone, we had to dive with bad visibility, reflect, and think that’s why we’re here. 

Seagrass washed up on the beach, plastics pollution, trawling, dead fish, bleached coral, and bad visibility. We’ve seen them all and we’re going to show this threat when we go to a Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia. We are privileged to join this conference as the youngest Marine biologists and get to present our project. We spent most of our time working on how we can proudly represent LMRT, MCC, and Liger. We’ll make a video, a scientific poster, and a presentation. With the best effort, we hope to raise awareness about Kep archipelago, Cambodia. We won’t stop here and we’ll live up to the hope. 

Just because we can’t do the survey this trip, this doesn’t stop us from being productive. There is a lot more work we can do out there.

Doing cluster
Practicing dolphins survey
Doing an official dolphins survey–The observer and the note-taker
Irrawady dolphins spotted!
Making art items from trash
Working on a conference presentation
With our dive instructor

LMRT Trip | April 5th-8th

LMRT has really made a fantastic and big progress this year! We have our own new reef that located 300 meters from Koh Seh. We deployed an artificial reef involving 21 blocks and a cluster on top of it. An artificial reef is an Anti-trawling marine habitat for lives and cluster is a triangle shape bamboos that tied together that can also act as habitat for fishes. Every time we go down to Koh Seh, we only made things progressed by being productive. We finished a cluster in 2 days and we managed to do replicates of surveys. 

This is our 4th trip to Koh Seh of 2018 when we first deployed the blocks in March, after a month, it has drastically progressed. As usual, we did three surveys: fish, invertebrate, and substrate. In just a month, we recorded around 50 catfishes, 20 snappers, 20 Jacks, 14 paradise whiptail, and so on. We spotted a stingray, shrimp, anemone, collector urchins, and conch. We have brought a bucket of rocks to drop around those areas. Hopefully, in the future, we can bring corals to there as well. The more things we put down there, the more chances of bringing lives. This is what we’re proud of, we’re restoring the marine habitat in this sandy areas; just by having an artificial reef, we already made positive changes to the place and even more in the future. Definitely, we’re going to do more, deploy more, survey more; that way, we give shelters, we protect the ocean! The young Cambodian marine conservationists are rising!

Here are some photos:

The cluster we did
The type of anemone we found at our reef!


Doing the cluster
Heading off to survey!
Doing more cluster!


Last Trip of the Year

LMRT got another trip before the end of the year which was from the 7th – 10th of December. It was the last trip of 2017 that LMRT has. In this trip, we’re trying to do our first official survey including fishes, invertebrates, and substrates. I was on the team with another person to do substrate survey. In substrate survey, first of all, we lay the 100 meters line, there will be a person the one who drops the plump which we use to indicate the substrate and another person will note down what it is by looking at the hand sign that the dropper gives.

In the first day, we were just reviewing and practicing more on neutral our buoyancy. We swim through a hula hoop, do the swim pivot, and enjoy the dive!! On the day of the survey, there are 4 teams of two. The first team lay the 100 meters transect line, the second team is the fish survey team, the third team is the invertebrates survey team, and the last team is the substrate survey team. The fish survey is about counting fishes and mark it to its correct category, invertebrates are also about counting while swimming in S-pattern. Last but not least, substrates are about dropping a plump every 50 cm, wherever the plump lands on, we record that substrate. One person will drop the plump and another person will record it. 

The last team didn’t get to finish their survey because it was too dark and we barely see what it is. We entered the water a bit too late like at 4-5 pm; therefore, by the time we exited the water, the sun already set.  We almost finish the survey, but we have to stop anyway due to safety. Anyway, we made last dives of the year worth it. Everyone gets the feeling of doing the survey. All we have to do now is to wait for next year, 2018, to be the year where our official surveys start. That was a nice way to end school before Christmas break.

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Together in MCC uniform
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This is the evidence when the last team exited the ocean by the time the sun sets.

Another Thrilling Trip

Acknowledged that, LMRT will be leaving to the island, Koh Seh, once every month. Now, we have another trip! It began from 16th-19th of November. In this trip, we’re focusing on how to survey, getting us to feel the feeling and the reality of doing the survey, and learning about substrates and invertebrates.

This trip is also the last trip that our dive instructor, Christin, is going to be with us since she has to leave to Egypt. After Christin’s gone, we’ll have new dive instructor, Nicholas. Despite all the dive instructors, diving continues to be my favorite hobbies that always bring me paradise! I enjoy it as much as I enjoy my whole life. Now, diving plays a really important role in my life which I never could think of and tell them that they’re mentally wrong if someone were to tell me 10 years ago that I’m going to be a diver. On the other hand, experiencing the survey process requires lots of patience. We have three different surveys including fish, substrate, and invertebrate. We’re not really focused on which survey we going to do yet; however, we’re just looking the overall view and survey as a whole. If we talk about the survey as a whole, the process of it is laying a 100 meters transect line and swim as slow as possible in the rate of 2.5 meters per minute and the total survey hour should be one hour. However, in this practice, we’re only doing 50 meters for 30 minutes. It is really slow that requires lots of patience.

Doing survey is about collecting data about fish, substrate, and invertebrate by counting them! The first dive is just to get us to feel comfortable about our speed underwater. On the second dive, we added the slate in order for us to note down everything we saw. It’s harder since we got slate on our hand and still need to manage the time to swim very slowly. It’s getting better through dives. Finally, we can control our speed and note down everything that we saw.

On the other hand, we have to study for substrate and invertebrate. Since we already get the idea of substrates, we’re going to go straight to the exam. We did version A and version B. The first time, I got 34/50; however, on the version B, I got 49/50. On the last night, we study invertebrates and get ready for the exam when another trip comes. Overall, this trip is really great that it flies so fast. It always flies fast when we enjoy it. Looking forward to our new dive instructor, invertebrates exam, and other upcoming thrilling trips.

“New achievement as always, LMRT”. – Karen Krieger, our learning facilitator

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Watching Sunset!
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Making Eco Blocks as a part of one volunteer’s project.
Enjoying snorkel after diving!
Ouch!! Look at those spikes!

TRIP! – 26th-29th October

Our second trip is from the 26th-29th of October. The goal of this trip is to test how well we can identify fish because we need to know how to identify fish in order to do the fish survey. Therefore, our schedule will be diving, learn how to identify fishes, and look at the surveys. We’ve changed our dive teams in order for everybody to feel comfortable with every each of us. We’ve dive for a total of 3 dives in this trip with our team along with our instructor just hanging out watch out for us, but most of the time, we’re on our own. We dive with navigation including compass, dive computer, and natural guide. As I heard from everyone, diving’s only getting better and better and even more appealing to me. Therefore, each dives that we took is only bringing to another level of becoming scuba divers.

The first dive after last time since I’ve dive was totally awesome. Our first time is at Koh Seh Home reef, it was fun; however, the visibility wasn’t that good, so which means we didn’t get a full dive on that day. However, on the next day, it was the best dive for me so far, we dove at Koh Mak Prang, which located 15 minutes away from Koh Seh. We dove about 45 minutes with good visibility, good navigation, amazing views, especially, I got a good neutral buoyancy. It was a good depth and dive.

However, on the afternoon of that day, we dove another time. This time I am a dive leader which means I need to lead the whole team underwater. I always wear my prescription mask whenever I’m underwater, there are two people in the team that need to wear a prescription mask, but we only have one. Therefore, the solution is to divide us into different teams. But, something happened and make us in the same team which means my friend got the mask because his eyes are worse than me. The dive turns out to be okay, but I couldn’t see anything. Only when I look up close rather than that I can’t literally see anything. As a result, I’m survived, I’m relieved. Thanks to the whole team who supports me from the side. As a joke, it somehow turns out to be a blind dive, as I called it.

Despite all the consequences, we made it again. To me, diving is where I can forget everything and dive down underwater while keeping all the stress and everything on the surface. Going to dive is like going to my home. Because of how much I love the ocean. I can’t believe of how passionate and determined every one of us had.

Our Dive Team (Four per team)
Whole Team




LMRT – Liger Marine Research Team

What is LMRT? LMRT stands for Liger Marine Research Team. LMRT is a group of eight students full with passion and desire for marine biology to come together and create this long-term project to protect the ocean. This project will last 3 years to make these eight students become their own marine ecosystems researchers. We are going to survey fish, invertebrates, and substrate; furthermore, we’re going to create our own data for those surveys. To do this, we have a good partnership with Marine Conservation Cambodia, MCC, which located in Koh Seh, Kep archipelago.

On the 28th of September-3rd of October, the LMRT journey began. This first week is about getting us to be an official scuba diver. Therefore, we need to get through these four intense days to be a diver. The purpose of doing research here is about the underwater ecosystem, so the most important part of the process is to be able to dive. We have divided into two teams of four and each of us has our own dive buddies. We started off one team at a time since we only get four people underwater at a time.

On the first day, I was really nervous because I understand all the dangerous, adventurous and risk-taking. We all understand the consequences of this if something goes wrong. Neither way, we already decided to choose to join this team; therefore, we need to put all the courage and determination to this no matter how dangerous we know it is. The dive that we’re going to do is pool session which means when we practice all the skills, but this dive will not count as a real dive because it’s just when we practice all the skills. On the first day, we practiced clearing our masks, finding neutral buoyancy and getting comfortable breathing underwater. We also have another pool session in the afternoon which we learned about taking off our BCD and regulator and put it back on. For some reasons, I’m panicking during the activities, but I’m still alive.

Second Day, in the morning, we do a little bit of pool session, then the plan for the afternoon is going to dive at Koh Angkrong which is near Koh Seh; furthermore, it is beautiful and satisfying, as well as, it’s way deeper. Since I love fishes and creatures underwater, that day I’ve completed my dream because I saw Double banded soapfish, Jellyfish, Diadema urchin, Clams, and many other life-worth seeing creatures. It was a big yet the best one so far with an immense smile on everyone’s face.

The rest of the day of this trip was just doing more skills as a lot as possible, especially, skills in emergencies cases. Then, another step that we need to do is the academic test about the whole scuba diving with 50 questions and multiple choices questions. Before dinner, we did the test and after dinner, we will check the answer. As a result, we all pass the TEST! I got 47/50 which is 94%. But, this isn’t determined 100% of the whole scuba system, what’s more, important is practicing and getting comfortable with scuba diving because it’s isn’t human nature to go and breathing down there underwater. Thanks to Karen and MCC for letting this opportunity happened. Thanks so much for fulfilling my dream.  

Our Team