19 April 2009

Woke up at 5:45am – gee it’s overcast. By 6:30, while I was using nature’s toilet, the heavens opened. We all thought it was a good thing the rains didn’t happen at night!

Equipped with raincoats, we continued shooting after breakfast. Secille and Choy found a dead brown booby tagged with bird banding.  Choy – WWF Philippines’ researcher/dive master and in the meantime, ranger, retrieved the tags from the bird’s legs. Poor bird.

Plastic in the bird's nest

Plastic in the bird’s nest

Next we looked for trash the boobies used for their nests.  There were lots of strings of blue, green and orange ropes, rubber soles of slippers, rubber floats from fishing, plastic cigarette lighters, shredded rice sackcloth. All these form part of the boobies’ nests. We just hope they don’t ingest plastic or get entangled in pieces of net!

Not singing in the rain

Not singing in the rain

Towards midday, the rains poured again. This time, it did not stop and we decided not to camp the second night. We were getting cold and EVERYTHING was wet.

It's a COTS epidemic!

It’s a COTS epidemic!

By 11am, the Patrol boat towing their small boat arrived.  The rangers came with boss manager Angelique and our friend and writer Alya.  They had spent the better part of the morning collecting crown-of-thorn starfish (COTS). The Tubbataha lagoon has a massive infestation of COTS, which have been there 15 straight months now.  They buried more than 1,200 COTS that morning in the islet.

Rangers turtle tagging

Tubbataha Rangers turtle tagging

After lunch, the rangers quickly tore down our camp in the rain, of course, and proceeded to the next activity of tagging green turtles found near the islet. Dr. Ian Bell – turtle expert from Australia trained TMO rangers Manny and Seconds to catch and tag turtles. Manny expertly showed us how it is done!