My passion for the ocean never seems to cease; it had only grown stronger the longer I spend near it. Words can’t describe how amazing the ocean is. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel whenever I am near it. According to science.howstuffworks, “We’ve sent 12 people to the moon since 1969 over a handful of missions; only three people have descended to the deepest part of the ocean in the Marianas Trench”. This means that we know more about the moon, which is not even the place where we are living in, than the big blue ocean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor are unexplored. That’s crazy! For as long as we know, our whole lives revolve around the ocean. We have been using the ocean as a very important source of food and economic growth, yet we know so little about it. I’m afraid that we are running out of time; by 2050, it has been predicted that there would be more plastics than fish in weight, many marine mammals status are now “Endangered”.
Let’s look on the bright side; many conservation efforts are involving, many marine protected areas are established and many countries are working together to tackle this major issue. Among the many different countries, Cambodia is one of them. An organization located on Koh Seh, one of the islands in the Kep Archipelago. MCC, also known as Marine Conservation Cambodia is helping Cambodia’s ocean in so many ways. One of them being is the LMRT, Liger Marine Research Team. In this project, we are monitoring the anti-trawling device that has been deployed around the island. Establishing clear data on whether the block is efficient and a very good solution for trawling. Trawling is one of the major problems that are creating a long-lasting impact on our ocean. Vulnerable coral reefs are ravaged, seagrasses are ripped apart and marine mammals and fish are being overfished. The anti-trawling device, not only provides habitat for lives underwater but acts as an anchor or a knife to cut the net from the trawling boat. The block is very easy to make but is very heavy.
Since the first cohort is graduating very soon, they will need someone to continue this project and the vision of it. The first cohort explained how it was a very big commitment and this project is what we will be committed to for the next three years. I decided to join the team because I have been to the island before and was very inspired by the work they are doing there. I have already mentioned the love I have for oceans so this was a great opportunity for me to express it. Unlike on land, we can’t actually see the destruction that is happening to this diverse habitat. So, just being one part of a small change for the ocean is very amazing.
Before actually going on the trip, LMRT generation 1 taught us everything we need to know before taking the paper test. Fast forward to the first time I started diving; it was scary. We were carrying these very big tanks on our back. As we enter the water though, the tank became a little lighter. The first time descending underwater was nerve-wracking. It felt so peculiar when we had to breathe compressed air. The air was cold as it comes out of the tank. We did some skills practice while underwater like taking off our masks and taking off our regulator and putting it back into our mouth. For me, every time the regulator comes out of my mouth I would always panic. At one point, I didn’t put the regulator in my mouth properly and took three big gulps of salty water; I was literally drowning. When we did our first open water dive, I was so busy finding my neutral buoyancy that I didn’t even have time to notice my surroundings. Something amazing about the dive was that while we were diving a juvenile golden trevally decided to tag along.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the LMRT generation one who taught us what we had to know in order to pass the SSI test. Tim, our very amazing dive instructor and MCC who was very welcoming.