Amazingly Productive Trip of 2019 – Mar 20th-24th

Do you want to hear a fabulous new from this trip?! You guess it. We finally surveyed our block! We were extremely excited and again, ready to rock and roll! Ordinarily, MCC had always organized the schedule for us when we are there, but this time and from now on, we take the initiative to make our own. To be honest, I feel that this trip is the most productive trip we ever had. I personally learn a lot from this trip.

Here are the three day summaries written by all of us when we were there.

Day 1: “Learn from mistakes and failures.”

LMRT’s back on the island! Not eight students but 11 (including three younger students from Liger!) Everyone was excited to be back again and, for some of us, for the first time. We started our first work day by surveying our first deployed artificial reef block!

Here are what we learned.

  1. To snorkel! Our three newbies snorkeled for the first time in the ocean! To them, “it was so weird and strange to breath under the water, but at the same
    Our three newbies: Soucheng (Left), Mariya (Middle), and Vanreach (Right).

    time it was an amazing experience to get to explore all of those marine species. We also got to see how the artificial reef block and clusters help to create the habitat for lives under the ocean.”

  2. To be more focused. Our first survey wasn’t successful, part of the reason being the lacks of planning and communication. When the first team laid the transect line for surveying, there were confusions that led to inefficiency. If we were more focused, we would have known to Stop; Breathe; Think; Act.
  3. To learn from mistakes and failures. We are young scientists and
    My friend, Sythong (In front), Amick (At the way back), and I (in the middle) are the laying the line team.

    conservationists, and we aren’t perfect. Mistakes and failures are inevitable, which we can’t fully prepare for. But what we can prepare for is how we response to them. Like today, we were struggling with diving, but that’s a sign we need to review. Besides that, the visibility did not support us with the survey, and there’s nothing we could change about it because it is SCIENCE, but what we can do is learn from it.

Life goes on no matter what; same with our project! Things didn’t go as expected, but it is all about how we response to and learn from it, like we did today.

Listening to one of the MCC volunteers about coral reef.
Everybody was searching for something called “Plastics!”

Day 2: The Liger Marine Research Team was finally able to conduct his survey this morning at our old artificial reef site; the visibility was still not the best, but it was at least good enough to see some species. We saw a burst of biodiversity at our survey site; there were a lot of java rabbit fish, black spot snappers…. there was even a huge grouper!

60 kg of trash!?? whoooh, gotta take a group photo.

From one of newbies: We had a fun snorkel this afternoon and saw many types of fish. We saw two long-beaked coral fish along with many other cool ones that we don’t know the name of (yet…) 😉 particularly the big ones under the pier. We also saw our very first seahorse (there were two of them)! But we were a bit scared by the sea urchins 😛

Data log!!!

To end the day, the whole group did a beach cleanup and collected 60kg of trash in an hour. Well done, team!

Day 3: We hope everyone is having a great weekend so far; we definitely are! At 6 am, bright and early, two teams took off to do a boat-based dolphin survey–with the assistance of our younger LMRT members–and a reef survey, conducted by the older LMRT members with MCC’s facilitation.

Loading up the equipment.

After hours of searching through the binoculars, the dolphin team finally spotted 7 individuals! Two were traveling together while others were diving individually and exhibiting a variety of behaviors.

The newbies were doing the dolphin survey.

Meanwhile, under the water, the surveyors were roaming along their 100-meter transect line scanning for fish, invertebrates, and substrates. Fortunately, the visibility was decent enough for them to conduct a baseline survey in the afternoon at their soon-to-be second artificial reef site.

LMRT’s Back! First Trip of 2019 – Jan 31st – Feb 3rd

After 8 months, getting back in the water, I be like…

After a long break from LMRT–about eight months–we were finally back on the island. The reason of having a long break is the rainy season. We always survey our block and dive during the sunny season because the visibility is better. Sadly, for this trip, the visibility was still bad due to the illegal and destructive fishing and seasonal change. Therefore, we could not survey block, but that did not mean we could not visit our block.

My first time seeing “bat fish!!!!”

During our journey visiting our block, there was a surprise: our block’s structure changed its shape. About one-third of the block buried in the silt. Furthermore, there are four hollow cubical blocks in the middle of the main structure; one of them was found under the main structure. Last, our cluster was missing. Nobody knew what knew how did that happen neither the LMRT nor the MCC. However, we hypothetically think that the main cause is from the illegal and destructive fishing: trawling.

The happiest time together. Making a boat and testing it out.

We are not consider this situation as a failure. It was actually the starting point for LMRT, to finally understand what is “real science.” We cannot keep thinking that our study is always perfect. This is an experiment in a “real” laboratory; anything can happen. From now on, we still keep surveying the block. We want to see how the modification of the block affects the lives there. Will there be new species? We do not know, but we believe that no matter what happens, our block is still doing its job, protecting the ocean.

The Last Trip of 2018 – May 24th-28th

LMRT was back on the island! We were ready to rock and roll! First of all, let me take a moment here that the first we were on the island, it was actually my birthday! Now, so far I ended my first three sentences with exclamation points; what’s good! Another one! Another one! Another one…..

I was so blessed to actually having LMRT trip on my birthday, I mean, what could have been better. My friends and I were so excited getting back into the water and checking our blocks! However, we could not do any of those things. Due to the illegal fishing, the visibility of the water was extremely bad, causing the sediments to stir up. Zero dive, but that did not mean zero productiveness. We already keep ourselves busy because that is LMRT.

We helped with and did many activities:

Continuation of cluster creation



My friends and I were splicing the ropes. 



Instead of splicing the rope, we braided each others’ hair. 




Dolphin Survey and Plastic Survey


My friend, Somphors, joined us this trip.






Nina, our plastic survey data collector, explained us the structure of the survey. 



Dolphin Survey.  





The MCC volunteers and LMRT were participating in the dolphin survey activities. 


Fun dives (forget the visibility)



I was blowing the octopus to check my buddy’s air system. Buddy checked!


Art project with rubbish we collected around the island.


Making the basket out of drinking straws and the fan frame. 



Preparation of presentation and poster for the upcoming conference we will attend: The 5th International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia. Unexpectedly, we are the youngest attendee there!

Staring at the sunset (very pleasant)


A footage of sunset taken by one of us. 

“Golden Trevally” Trip April 5th – 8th

Learning many different knots for the making the cluster.

This was the most exciting trip out of all the LMRT trip because finally, we were able to take the first official survey of our deployed artificial blocks from March. Again, we deploy the blocks with the cluster about 300 meters away from the island. For the previous trip, we were really hopeful to see the lives rehabilitate at our place which it had been destroyed by the trawling. Therefore, this trip, we were so happy to see the first result.

Final product: Cluster!

For this April trip, it was a shorter trip, but we were still involving in the same activities: making cluster, surveying the blocks, and cleaning up the beach. Specifically about surveying, my partner, Soliday and I were responsible for the invertebrate survey. While surveying, there was not many invertebrate organisms besides some different types of urchins, volutes, and shells. The sea bed was entirely covered with silt; the water turbidity was bad. But when we arrived at our blocks, there were a lot of different sized fish swimming around. Interestingly, we had never seen a single catfish, but when I looked under the blocks, there were at least 50 of them. In data, on average, the number of species increased from six to 17 species.  

Buddy check with Sythong before getting into the water.

The survey was not finished. On the day we had to leave the island for Liger, I had to woke up early around six in the morning to do another survey: fish survey. My partner was Nilroth. My most memorable moment from that the survey was that I saw a “Golden Trevally!” It is an immense fish. It was swimming above my head calmly, trying to find food in the early morning. In fact, mostly, we have to do the fish survey in the early morning because that is the time when all the fish is trying to hunt.


                          GIANT STRIDE!

Overall, spotting the Golden Trevally–to me–was everything.


Another Long Trip – March – 8th – 13th

Here we go! This was another long trip from the first trip we had which was closed for one week. As always, we were making a lot of accomplishment from a long stay on the island. These are the overall activities we did:

  1. Built the concrete blocks for the marine artificial reef
  2. Making a triangular cluster as another alternative for marine organisms
  3. Deployed the first artificial reef in the first Marine Fisheries Management Area in Cambodia (MFMA)
  4. Conducted baseline surveys of their study site
  5. Beach Clean up and rubbish creativity
Pouring the mixture into the mold.

Building the concrete blocks was the start of the entire trip. We met Ricky, who was responsible for facilitating us through the entire process of the making those blocks. It was a tiring and fun task. We divided everyone into a small team with a different small task: chain team, cement team, and pebble team. All the LMRT members all began with the assembling of the concrete mold which would make six blocks at a time. Then, we went to our small teams doing the assigned task. In order to make the blocks, we mixed the cement with sand, pebbles, and water. After, we poured the mixture into the mold. We dried the blocks for about a day, but right before we took out the concrete blocks, we carved those with our names. All of these blocks will be deployed in the future an artificial reef for the marine biodiversity at Koh Seh. Simultaneously, it does have an important role in preventing an illegal fishing, trawling.

The finished blocks with our names!
Soliday and I learned how to tie some knots.

Right after finishing all the jobs with the blocks, we continued our duty to complete the make of cluster. As one of our members said, “[Cluster] is a triangular bamboo shelter with ropes dangling into the water.” This is another alternative to creating a habitat for the marine organisms besides the artificial reef (concrete blocks). We can say that cluster is a hand-made buoy; it can replace with the plastic one. Once we deployed the cluster, it will help to facilitate all the fish including the juveniles.

      We finished the cluster.

When we were done with both building projects, we are ready to deploy. This deploy is part of constructing the Marine Fisheries Management Area in Cambodia project (MFMA). MFMA is a huge project that Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC) proposed to the government of creating a sustainable area or habitat and preventing all the illegal fishing for the Kep Archipelago. MCC chose various locations around the Archipelago to deploy the artificial reef on the GPS with the total of 47 spots. The clusters will be deployed into the ocean, used to mark the location of each plot, and connected to the deployed artificial reefs underwater. LMRT team has done a phenomenal work of helping to deploy one of the MFMA spots. Again, it is a tiring job, but we are happy and proud of everybody who involved since we are taking baby steps to change the world.

Our cluster has deployed!!








The spot we helped to deploy is our official surveying location for the LMRT team to study for the rest of the years here. We had been practicing all the three types of survey (fish, invertebrates, and substrates) since the last trip, and of course, we were ready to start this first official survey. It is a 100-meter survey with the blocks in the midway. Sadly, we missed two of our teammates because they were sick. We still had six people left, and it was perfect to divide into each survey. Soliday and I were the invertebrate teams; Sythong and Thiny were in the fish team; Kimseng and Lux were in the substrate team. As part of the survey, the fish had to go to first in the early morning to lay out the lines and start to survey because fish would be waking up and ready to find food. After, the invertebrate and substrate team go last.

Me! Gian strike!
LMRT learned how to use the underwater camera.

During my invertebrate survey, there was nothing found. We saw only some conch, urchins, sea stars, and sea hares. We would not expect to see many sea hares the surveying location; eventually, we decided to add sea hare as another species to our slate for the survey. The area was not sand instead silty, and there were not many fish and other organisms started to live there yet. For the entire trip, we got to survey three times for each. So, we got to have three replicates. Every night, we logged our dives and fill the data from the slates. As looking through the data, we are hopeful to see more organisms starting to live and the improvement of our benthic zone. In addition, we named our location as “Karen’s Reef.” We named to show our gratitude to Karen.

Substrate team was entering the data.
We did the “LMRT” design for our bungalow stair.

I would say it was one of my best trip here at the Koh Seh since I am very excited to see more lives at our Karen’s Reef. We did a lot of help our ocean and we are going to accomplish more. After participating in these small activities to save our ocean, it is very emotional for me somehow because I cannot imagine myself and others doing all of these to serve the ocean, our home. If you want to comprehend more about the MFMA, please click this link below.


First Trip of 2018 – Feb 1st – 4th

Our diving instructor, Manu.

We could not go to the island in January just because of bad weather over there. So, this would be the first trip of 2018. To be honest, we did not dive that much since the water visibility was really unacceptable. We could not see anything far from one meter at all. For the whole, I did only one dive. However, we actually got introduced to our new diving instructor for is trip. His name is Manu. He is a friendly and kind man. It was a spectacular experience to dive with him. Even though the water visibility was bad, he managed to distract us with other activities understand. He taught us how to make a ring bubble underwater with our hands and navigate on land with blind eyes by covering up with the blanket. Overall, these are the only updates for our diving.

Me, after the first dive.


It was sad and really hard to watch on the day we arrived at the island. Along the seashore, there were rows of thick and filthy water hyacinth and rubbish floating from the ocean and possibly Vietnam. At the first thought, we did not know where is the origin of these water hyacinth. Then, we heard that at Vietnam, people were doing their river clean up and they were starting to throw away into the ocean. So you can pretty much guess our whole trip likes which were cleaning up all of those water hyacinth. Everybody was hard-working and optimistically trying to finish everything. The water hyacinth and rubbish were smelly and tangled. But of all, we did had a lot of joy while doing it since we found some weird stuff that we can joke about.

Us and others cleaned up the water hyacinth.
A long row of water hyacinth.

Sadly, this was the last trip for our lovely facilitator or LMRT leader, Karen. She is now our school counselor, and she will be leaving Liger and working from America to find scholarships, opportunities, and networking other colleges for us. We are all happy for her, but we promise that we will keep her in touch with our amazing, LMRT accomplishment.       

watching life under the microscope – Lux


Last Trip of 2017! Dec 7th – 10th

Our diving instructor, Amick, was giving us instruction before descending.

We were on the adventure for another trip. It was the last trip of 2017, then we prepared for our winter break. The schedule was not that different from the previous trip. We were continuing our practice with the survey of fish, invertebrates, and substrate. For the first day, LMRT was having a relaxed diving; we were back to our practice with neutral buoyancy and fin pivoting. Our diving instructor was letting swim through the hoops at a different height and it was extremely fun.

The substrate team with the sunset background.

After feeling prepared with neutral buoyancy and fin pivoting, we were ready to practice our survey once again. This time we divided eight of us into four teams. Each team was responsible for different jobs. There were four jobs related to the survey: set up the basement line, fish survey, invertebrate survey, and substrate survey. I chose the fish survey. Basically, the teams have to go in order. The baseline time had to go first since they had to layout the 100-meter   line for the other surveying. Then, it was my team’s turn. I did the survey with Sythong and it went really well. Our practicing location was at Jasmine reef, and it was beautiful. As I remembered, for the fish survey, we had to swim with the pace of 2 meters every minute. It was super slow!  The next team was the invertebrate team. After that, it would be the substrate team. Unfortunately, the substrate team was not able to finish the whole survey because it was getting darker as the sun was setting.

On the day we had to go back to school, we had the last picture of 2017 with the MCC people. It was a great adventure. Thinking about diving, I was surprised to reflect all the positive changes within myself. About three to four months ago, I was a non-certified diver, but look at me now, I am a certified diver with the other LMRT members! From zero knowledge about surveying and hundreds of species to a person who inherently has all of that knowledge. Overall, I feel empowered with the others; we made a lot of great moves so far with persistence and optimism. Next year, 2018, we are still going to fight and save our ocean as long we are taking baby steps.

Last LMRT team picture of 2017 with Paul, MCC founder.

The Third Trip – Nov 16th – 19th

This is the third trip for the LMRT people. As usual, we always have the main focus of the trip. For this trip, our main focus was practicing the survey underwater and simultaneously identifying the species we had been studying. Surveying underwater is not straightforward as we seem it is. There are many instructions we have to follow. The survey for three different groups (fish, invertebrate, and substrates) is slightly different. There are swimming speed and position you need to remember. Personally, during the trip, practicing surveying underwater was worthwhile and stimulating. It did make me thinking of the official survey where we can record the marine lives at our official site. Practicing the survey over many times gives me a lot of encouragement.

In the early morning, we saw this amazing seahorse near the pier.

During the practice, we need to swim five meters every three minutes. It is super slow. As a newly certified diver, I confronted a lot of obstacles with my diving skills. I lost my balance, went so fast, not able to manage my neutral buoyancy, and hit the seabed for a few times. When I was practicing, I was feeling uncomfortable, but after many practices, I felt much better. Besides diving, I was also snorkeling with other members. Most of the time, I just enjoy all the different views underwater with many atheistic organisms. There are just too many to see!

A peaceful sea cucumber
A delicious chocolate drop starfish
Test your brain, could you spot a seahorse in this picture?
While I was snorkeling, an energetic crab was escaping rapidly from the danger, which is me!


The Second Trip – Oct 26th – 29th

After LMRT members have certified as divers, for this second trip it was less intense. For the main intention of this trip is to pass and understand all the provided fish species we had been preparing for before this trip. As always, there were many other diving skills that LMRT had to master: navigation, fish identification, and diving leading. For this trip, I go to be a diving leader and I was responsible to take care, other members. It was uncomfortable for the first time when I had many types of equipment all over my body. There were the diving computer, slate, tank banger,  and compass. Before I became the diving leader, I already studied and experienced all the equipment and their techniques. Became a diving leader for the first was actually challenging because you have to know how to use all the equipment and instructions for leading a dive. After all, I was enjoying it and hopefully, I will be the chosen diving leader again.

                         After learning the navigation, we are ready to practice!

We dove for the total amount of three dives. There were sometimes that we have to revoke the diving schedule since sometimes, the water visibility or the weather is bad, which is not safe to dive. Besides diving at the Koh Seh’s home reef, we got a chance to dive at another island, Koh Mak Prang; it was the location and time that I was a diving leader. The water visibility was good and we dove about an hour long. About the fish identification test, everybody was passing the test. Most of the time, we learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we got some of the fish species wrong, but it is very important to learn the mistakes. The test was tricky because there were fish species that we did not know or unable to identify.

I was preparing and cleaning up the diving pieces of equipment after diving.
This was me, a diving leader with all the equipments all over the body.






As a summary of the trip, I actually noticed that my diving skills are developing each time I dove. I was able to adjust my buoyancy to find of neutral one and experience the roles of being a diving leader. The whole trip was a stress-free moment; we helped to do the beach cleaning-up and meeting new volunteers. Aside from all of these accomplishments, we still got two upcoming tests that are waiting for LMRT, which are invertebrate identification and substrates. Hopefully, we will finish those tests with great result, but Most of all, I am really excited for the next trip in next month.



On the way back for LLA.

From Nothing to Something – Sep 28th – Oct 3rd

Thanks, Patagonia for donating us wetsuits and shorts.

On the 28th of September, 2017, LMRT finally had a chance to begin the adventure of our first trip. It was the trip of we becoming certified divers. To be honest, before the arrival of Koh Seh island, I was feeling the butterflies in my stomach the whole time because I was super excited to become a diver, which was my dream since I was a young boy. I had never been to Koh Seh before, so that was my first time. I was picturing many things in my head about the island and the upcoming diving courses and tests. We had been studying the online diving courses, SSI for about two months for the final test. There were many aspects of the whole course: physical aspects, technical aspects, and emergency coping.

A team photo of LMRT after finishing all the first dives, Koh Seh.

Once we arrived the island, the island people were gathering and welcoming us. We were sleeping in the tents for the whole first trip. Part of our budget expense, we were also planning to spend money on the construction of our own bungalow. The island food was well-cooked and delicious. We got to meet our amiable diving instructor, Christine. She is from New Zealand. For the first day until the end of the trip, we had to dive five times in order to be certified. To do so, we dove five times with Christine; we had many pool sessions with the focuses on our buoyancy, equipment setting, and other diving skills. Finding a neutral buoyancy was extremely challenging for me and I bet for the rest of the team. Neutral buoyancy is all about avoiding yourself from sinking to the seabed and floating to the surface. You have to adjust the air inside your BCD and simultaneously with your lungs followed by inhaling and exhale.

After, we required to do a paper test and pass it in order to demonstrate our knowledge after learning time-consuming SSI lessons. Everybody was passing the test. Speaking about diving, when I started diving with Christine and other LMRT members, it was phenomenal to see and observe all those marine lives again. Sadly, I saw many damaged and killed corals because mass-destructive fishing: trawling. I first remembered my first time diving with another instructor at Koh Song Saa islanding my Preventative Health exploration. Comparing both locations, it was an immense difference. I am sad, but it gives me the courage and optimism to fight those obstacles in order to rehabilitate those lives.

After setting up the equipment and get ready to dive.

On the last day of the trip, Christine was announcing all of us to become a certified diver. We were proud all of our team’s effort and determination; it was a memorial time. We were allowed to plan our own dive with the divided teams. It was mind-blowing because I actually allowed to dive independently with our teammates. After that, we headed back to school with happy faces, proud, honor, and courage to pursue our goals. Overall, the whole trip was life-changing moments. It is deep down into our hearts and brains. Just imagine, five days ago, we were students who were non-certified, but look at us now, certified divers and change agents for future Cambodia.