by Isadora Marshall, G11 All about MCC!

Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), an organisation located on a tiny island (800m in length!) called Koh Seh, off of Kep is striving for protection of the ocean, aquatic ecosystems and species in the Kep Archipelago. They are particularly focusing on protecting marine life from some of the destructive fishing practices which are completely shredding up the seabeds and destroying not only the beautiful but vital habitats of the Kep Archipelago. Many of the people working there put their lives on the line to protect the ocean, the majority of them aren’t even paid for the hard work they do, yet despite this, they put the dedication in because our oceans need it!

How does this relate to ISPP?

Well, a group of 4 grade 11 students (Jenny Shen, Isadora Marshall, Shealyn Koski and Oliver Schmidtberg)  have been working with MCC since September in creating a sustainable research project on seahorses. They’ve been spending the past few months getting certified for scuba diving, with SSI (Scuba Schools International). So far, they have their open water diving certificate and are halfway through getting their advanced course. In order to be a seahorse surveyor, they need both their open water and advanced diving certificates. After the next trip to the island at the end of this month, they can begin the research. 

Why does MCC need our help?

They’re a very small group of environmental activists trying to save the entire Kep Archipelago and they’re the only organisation in Cambodia for Marine Conservation. They need a group of seahorse surveyors specifically because it’s a difficult task to be a seahorse surveyor. You need 2 diving courses and you need to know how to identify seahorses as they camouflage and are minuscule creatures; the biggest in this region being less than 10cm. The volunteers who come to MCC usually aren’t there long enough, nor have the experience or skills to be a seahorse surveyor. When surveying, you have to be an expert in what you’re doing, you have to be conscious of the surrounding aquatic environment, specifically the seabed and seagrass which are a common home to seahorses. Hence, they need long term volunteers.

How can you help?

Did you know that by eating shrimp and prawns in Cambodia, you are directly supporting one of the most destructive fishing practices – trawling – which rips up the entire seabed, wiping out many more aquatic species than just shrimp, seahorses (and many others) too. Additionally, by even changing your lifestyle habits such as using less plastic, using more environmentally friendly and biodegradable products can contribute greatly to your surrounding environments – and yes this includes the Kep Archipelago since much of the waste unfortunately ends up there. 

What to do if you’re interested in it? Who to contact etc…

The aim of this research project is to formulate long term sustainability by passing the project down, annually, to other ISPP environmental and ocean enthusiasts. The next generation who take up this project will have the methodology sorted for them (created by us), so they just repeat the methodology, observe the seahorses, collect information and become certified divers. Yes, it is time consuming and requires dedication but the experience is unimaginable – you literally get to see life below water. We are really encouraging this project amongst you all because it’s a great chance to connect to your community and help make positive impacts on Cambodian marine life. This also greatly benefits MCC in that they will have updated information on the seahorses which will help them in knowing how to most effectively protect them and sustain them. 

If you’re reading this and you’re interested in it – if it’s something that you could see yourself doing then please do come speak to us at anytime or you can contact us virtually @:

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