Cambodian Marine Mammal Project

£845 of £5,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 15 months
'The Cambodian Marine Mammal Conservation Project' is Cambodia's first long term marine mammal research program. The Project was initiated in September 2017, and represents a collaborative effort between Marine Conservation Cambodia , the DMAD Marine Mammals Research Association and the Dolphin Division of Cambodia's Fisheries Administration. The project's primary aim is to collect data on abundance, distribution and residency to delineate and protect critical habitats for the Irrawaddy dolphin in Cambodia's Kep Archipelago.

What is the Irrawaddy dolphin?
Irrawaddy dolphins are distributed in rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal water throughout Southeast Asia. They are considered 'Endangered' on the IUCN's list of threatened species (IUCN, 2017), primarily due to their declining an fragmented populations.

Why study marine mammals in Cambodia?
To answer this question, we should first ask why we should study marine mammals in general. Firstly, marine mammals are are top predators, keystone species and can be used as indicators of ecosystem health. Secondly, baseline data and monitoring schemes focusing on marine mammals are important for understanding where to focus conservation efforts and deciding what type of strategy to implement. Finally, If we wish for marine mammal species to be present in the earth’s seas for future generations, investigation into populations is vital. 

Cambodia is home to 11 marine mammal species (Beasley and Davidson, 2007) and whilst confirmed species are protected by fisheries law (MAFF, 2007), this law is not informed with sufficient data to implement successful marine mammal conservation strategies. Through the creation of The Cambodian Marine Mammal Conservation Project, this much needed data will be collected and used towards creating tailored marine mammal conservation legislation.

For an ecosystem to be healthy and productive, it should be in balance with each species playing its part. For this reason, supporting the health of marine mammal populations, supports the health and productivity of the ecosystem.

Our research methods: 
-Land and boat surveys for behaviour observation study;
-photo-identification techniques;
-passive acoustic monitoring;
social science.

Other related activities:
-Data entry;
-report writing and producing peer-reviewed publications;
-education and outreach. 

Our project needs help funding for the following items: 

A theodolite would be used during observational dolphin land surveys from ‘Dolphin Lookout Points’ in the Kep Archipelago. The theodolite would attain horizontal and vertical angles of dolphin groups and vessels, tracking their routes and speeds. Pythagoras software works with the theodolite to transform these angles into GPS coordinates. The purpose is to use coordinates for mapping dolphin critical habitats (Foraging, Resting, Socializing) and vessel densities using ArcGIS. Critical habitats will be mapped according to season and will be used in the creation of effective conservation legislation, for example designing marine mammal protected areas and the regulations associated with them.

Further infomation and price:  
FOIF theodolite (Metrica 60840) £1200.93

Building of Dolphin Lookout Point : 
Currently we have two ‘Dolphin Lookout Points’, one on Koh Ach Seh and one in Kep Town, both are 24m above sea level and used for observational dolphin land surveys. The view from the lookouts enable ca. 50% of the waters of the Archipelago to be surveyed. A third ‘Dolphin Lookout Point’ is proposed to be built on Koh Ach Seh enabling coverage of the remaining 50% of the Archipelago. This means critical habitats will be able to be identified and dolphin behavior observed throughout the entire of the archipelago.

The funds requested for this cover the costs of the materials ($400) and the laboring cost ($100).

Book titled ‘Dolphins of the Kep Archipelago 2018’: 
We propose designing and publishing a hard-back book titled ‘Dolphins of the Kep Archipelago 2018’. The purpose of the book is to increase awareness of government officials, local communities and school pupils to the presence of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Kep Archipelago. The book will be split into 3 sections, with each page translated in both English and Khmer:

Section 1: Information on biology, geography and threats associated with the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Section 2: Information about MCC’s dolphin research project.

Section 3: Information on all dolphins that MCC researchers have identified using photo-identification techniques. Each dolphin will have its own page, with the following information:

-          individual’s name;

-          images showcasing that individual’s characteristic features;

-          locations that dolphin has been sighted in, marked on a map;

-          a list of other identified individuals that dolphin has been seen in groups with (an insight into social structure).

Photo-identification techniques began in January 2018, with 26 individuals identified to date. It is proposed that photos continue to be collected until December 2018, when the book is then sent for publishing.

Publishing costs: $33/book (a total of 30 books)

The book with be disseminated to the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Fisheries Administration, Heinrich Böll Foundation, and a selection of schools and communities in the Kep region.

Camera: Required on boat surveys to capture high quality images of indiviudals for photo-identification studies.

Further infomation and price:
Nikon DSLR camera body £400
Nikon 70x250 zoom lens £700

If you would like any further information about our project, please  email cambodiadolphinproject@gmail.com
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Today the sea was beautiful, so we headed out to build our photo-ID catalog. This week we are finally going to try and match our individuals with ones identified in Vietnam, to see if the population crosses the Cambodian-Vietnamese border!
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Some beautiful shots from this morning's Irrawaddy dolphin survey. We are lucky enough to see these Endangered guys every week now!
Tail fluke, Kep Archipelago, Cambodia
A pair of Irrawaddies, Kep Archipelago
3 Irrawaddy dolphins, pre-breaching
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Some snaps of our beautiful Irrawaddy dolphins from yesterday's boat survey. 25 dolphins, the most we've seen since starting research in September! So far we have seen these dolphins in the Kep Archipelago in Autumn and Winter, and we want to work out if they are here all year. If you have a spare few pennies to support the continuation of our research and the conservation of this magnificent yet endangered species, it would be absolutely wonderful and greatly appreciated.
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We have published our first News article! A few clicks away you can download the December Edition PDF and read the article on page 140. Follow this link: https://www.fauna-flora.org/publications/cambodian-journal-natural-history
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£845 of £5,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 15 months
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