Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines Inc.
The Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (“LAMAVE Research Institute”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of marine megafauna and the marine environment in the Philippines.
What We Need
The Philippines have been the theater of extensive marine megafauna hunting for the last century with the last targeted manta ray fishery closed in April 2017. This fishery has been removing over 2000 mobulids (manta and devil rays) every season to supply local meat consumption and international gill rake trade. Illegal hunting still persists in the country despite the CITES and CMS have been locally supported and implemented by the new Amended Fishery Code (RA 10654). The road to recover populations that once were so dense to allow fishermen to walks on their back between islands is long but urgent and necessary.
Our project aims to identify and describe remaining populations of manta and devil rays in the country, identify conservation priority areas and migratory corridors and set the basis for the creation of a dedicated network of protected area to allow the species to recover.
Our team started monitoring the largest dedicated fishery in the coral triangle in Bohol in 2011 and at the same time collected sightings around the country. In 2015 we started monitoring opportunistically Manta Bowl, the largest mantas cleaning station in the Philippines, where despite the increasing diving tourism, no protection has been granted to this key habitat, and targeted shark and ray fisheries are still abundant in the area.
Manta Bowl is the most famous manta dive site in the Philippines, where both species of manta ray occur. The reef manta (Manta alfredi newly classified as Mobula alfredi) is the most common around the shoal while the oceanic mantas (Manta birostris newly classified as Mobula birostris) occur more rarely. This seamount, located offshore the island of Ticao (province of Masbate) is a reported cleaning station and a foraging area, where many filter feeder species like whale sharks and other devil rays are also regularly seen. Despite the importance of Manta bowl for the conservation of these species, no protection is granted to this incredible site. Furthermore, a large gap of knowledge is left regarding the stock identity and the geographical range of these populations. The goal of the project is to conserve and restore manta and devil ray populations in the Philippines. Baseline data on the manta population and its habitat use are necessary to provide keys for the local governments, local communities, and other stakeholders, to design together with a proper conservation strategy in the area and the further develop sustainable marine wildlife tourism interactions.
Volunteers are a fundamental part of LAMAVE, many of our projects rely on the hard work and dedication of volunteers from the Philippines and around the world. Volunteers collect data that contributes to LAMAVE’s research outputs, including scientific publications, policy, and education.
By the end of your time here, you will be very knowledgeable in the biology, ecology, and conservation of mobulid rays, as well as the various techniques used to study these wonderful but vulnerable animals.
You will learn how to conduct scientific surveys including collect photo identification (photo-ID), conduct Underwater Visual Survey (UVS), and set Remote Underwater Video (RUV) system. You will learn how to input and clean scientific data, as well as organizing a database. You will be involved in the maintenance and preparation of the equipment.
You will be sharing what interest and passionate you, by giving a presentation about sharks and rays, and marine conservation to local communities and divers, and assisting in information, education and communication campaigns.
Finally, you will be in a remote place with not much internet signal, a good way to disconnect and jump into the local culture and learn the basics of the local language.
When & Who
What we Provide
The project accommodations are located within a resort (Ticao Island Resort) with shared rooms for up to 3 people.
Meals are local dishes, prepared with ingredients found at the local market.
Volunteers' monthly contribution of USD$800 covers accommodation, food (3 meals/day), scientific diving and research activities.
Expenses for snacks, drinks, days off, etc are on volunteers own expenses.
The scuba diving gears are not provided and volunteers who therefore need rental from the local dive shop can expect an extra USD$100 per month for BCD and regulators rental together.
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Other Ways to Help
Extra action camera (GoPro Hero4 or above, new or refurbished) allow us to keep expending our survey areas and collect more data.
External hard drives (portable or plugged) are necessary for the high storage capacity needed due to the amount of footage recorded during the surveys.
Additional Info about Us
The teamwork a 6-day week, with one day off a week. Days off are on a rotation schedule.
An average day starts at 5:30 am and work generally finished by 4 pm, or once tasks are complete. Weather dependent, you will be in the water 3 days and on land 3 days a week.
During an average day, you will conduct 2 dives, meaning you will be out at sea for approximately 6 hours a day. Volunteers must be experienced divers and comfortable in strong currents, as well as willing to spend for prolonged periods of time out at sea.
LAMAVE a prominent voice for change in the Southeast Asian conservation community. As the largest independent non-profit organization working to promote marine megafauna conservation in the Philippines, we are committed to fighting for the protection of the incredible marine biodiversity in Philippine waters, at the heart of the Coral Triangle, and ensure the ongoing prosperities of the coastal livelihoods that directly depend on the ocean.
Since our beginnings in 2010, LAMAVE has consistently been at the forefront of conservation science in the Philippines. We have pioneered the use of scientific evidence as support tools for conservation in the Philippines and our work has been instrumental in drafting key policies and legislation.
Our conservation action is built on a solid foundation of rigorous scientific research and community-led conservation actions. We initiate on-ground scientific assessments, fundamental to our understanding of the complex forces at play. We support our diverse government partners with the tools they need to create economically vibrant societies that are also environmentally sustainable. We invest in our future and nurture young conservation talents from around the world.
LAMAVE is now uniquely positioned to drive innovation in the marine conservation sector in Southeast Asia. We have demonstrated that the right research methods can results in highly actionable data which in turn can help us design conservation strategies with the incentives that mobilize rather than alienate coastal communities.
Our tropical oceans and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them are facing formidable challenges. Yet against a backdrop of threats, we are seeing an unprecedented mobilization of grassroots action in support of marine protection. We are humbled to play a part in supporting this movement and are dedicated to continuing to drive forward our mission of ensuring the continued mutual prosperity of our oceans and the coastal livelihoods in Southeast Asian.