Practice doing surveys! | LMRT Trip 3

From the 16th through the 19th of November, the Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT) was at Koh Seh, practicing doing fish surveys and take our substrate identification exam. On the trip, I went on four dives, all of which, we were focusing on improving our surveying skills. Personally, the most challenging skill for me to practice was the swimming position. The swimming position for doing surveys is head down, legs up at an angle about 30 degrees. To achieve this goal, I had to get a good buoyancy, which was hard already. This ensures that I won’t be all the way up on the surface or, sink to the bottom of the ocean. After achieving that, I have to get into my position, lay the transect line, come back to the start of the line, and start the survey. 

 Beside the dives and the exam, I spent my Saturday morning looking under a microscope at a zoanthid that Karen, my facilitator, picked up. I used a pair of tweezers to grab a worm to look at closely under a microscope.

 This trip was very productive since we finished our second identification exam and we also got a chance to experience what it’s like to do surveys. I, now, have a sense of how the survey goes and the skills I have to improve on my upcoming survey practices.

Fish “Game” Exam and More Dives! | LMRT Trip 2

Not even a month later and I’m back at Koh Seh! This trip was way less intense than the other one. I left Thursday the 26th, October 2017.  Our purpose of this trip was to practice diving, because we don’t want to forget everything, and take our fish identification exam, or as our instructor calls it, “The Fish Game.” Amick, one of the people from Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), didn’t want us to stress too much about this test, hence he named it, “The Fish Game.” He also said that this exam doesn’t really matter much; it’s just to make sure that we know the main species of the fish. What matters is when we’re underwater and being able to recognize the different species of fish. We had around 70 species to study.
Beside the “game”, I went on three dives. We were practicing navigation using our compasses and dive computers; I would say we did pretty good. We didn’t end up in Vietnam, at least. My prescription mask arrived so I got a chance to use it on this trip. They, honestly, completely changed my diving experience. I was able to see way clearer than before, and they helped me identify fishes underwater, which was pretty neat. I spotted a bunch of wrasses, snappers (one HUGE blackspot snapper, which freaked me out), groupers, and more. My favorite spot was a school of fusiliers swimming right below me, in between gigantic corals. It was so unexpected and they were beautiful. I got a chance to swim with them for a bit before my dive leader called me to reunite with my group.
This was another successful trip, that was filled with productivity. For now, I’m back at school and we’re planning to go back in mid-November. 

The Liger Marine Research Team | LMRT Trip 1

As you might’ve seen in my other posts, I’ve been talking quite a bit about the Liger Marine Research Team, in short, LMRT. The LMRT is a group of eight students from the Liger Leadership Academy that will be doing research on the marine biology in Cambodia, more specifically, Koh Seh. Koh Seh is an island off the coast of Kep, Cambodia. 

Ariel view of the island

We had our first trip to the island on the 28th of September, 2017. The purpose of that trip was to get us all certified as open water divers. I took the SSI Open Diver course in my summer so I was ready to get in the water and practice the skills. We consisted of about one dive per day (excluding the “pool sessions”). It was weird staying underwater for that long. I had to get up at 6 AM and get ready for my “classes” that take place underwater at around 7 in the morning. It was also very scary to practice all those skills and stay underwater for a long period of time. The scariest and hardest skills I had to practice were, taking off my buoyancy compensator (BC) underwater and putting it back on, and performing an ascend when I’m out of air; my instructor would come behind my BC and turn off my tanks. I then, have to give her the “out of air” sign and ascend to the surface, inflate my BC with my own mouth; usually, I would use the built-in system in the BC to inflate itself but since I’m out of air, I have to inflate it myself. I got a chance to go to an island nearby to dive at around six meters depth with HUGE corals and other organisms. The morning following the day I got certified, I went diving with my buddy, Nilroth. We went seahorse hunting, and no, we weren’t catching them. We spotted a seahorse, living with a lot of seagrasses. 


That was one of the best weeks of my life, filled with mixed emotions. It was one of the scariest, the weirdest, the most dangerous, the most tiring, and one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in my life.