Protecting the unique habitats
and cultures of islands worldwide
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September 2016 e-Newsletter
In This Issue: Seacology Prize Ceremony just three weeks awayWater to flow in remote IndonesiaEast Timor island sets new marine biodiversity recordMangroves in the newsTravel: Cocos Island, Costa RicaThank you, Bay Area!Seacology stickers

Prize Ceremony just weeks away

On Thursday, October 6th, we'll gather in our hometown of Berkeley, California to honor this year's Seacology Prize winner, Irma Brady of Honduras. We invite you to join us for the free, public event. Learn more about Irma and RSVP here.

Water to flow in West Java village

One of three new projects begun in Indonesia this summer, our collaboration with the village of Puncak Baru, is beginning to take shape.

The West Java community of roughly 4,000 people sustains itself with a traditional form of rice cultivation that has been practiced in the area's rich volcanic soil for centuries. Its people have long depended on a network of tunnels and trenches to provide not only irrigation for their crops but also water for drinking, bathing, and more. Unfortunately, parts of the system have been vulnerable to the elements—a 2,000-meter channel built along a steep hillside is prone to collapse and erosion, putting the village's access to potable water at risk. The constant need to make repairs has consumed much of the villagers' time and constituted an ongoing economic burden. The recent El Niño weather pattern further complicated matters, delaying the start of this year's rainy season. That left the community with less available water and made the need for reliable infrastructure even more pronounced.

This summer, the people of Puncak Baru reached out to Seacology to help them upgrade and bolster the system.
With Seacology's support our partners recently began digging out the vulnerable stretch of trenches and will soon be adding a layer of stone reinforcement to them. As part of the agreement, the community offered to plant trees along the length of the canal system, which will help to control both erosion in wet years and evaporation in dry ones.

In exchange, the villagers will set aside 2,335 acres of forest reserve—no logging, hunting, or farming will be permitted there for at least 15 years. The agreement protects some of the last remaining habitat of several endangered endemic species, including the silvery gibbon and Javan hawk-eagle. It's essential for these species' future survival to conserve West Java's rainforest, of which only about five percent remains. Our project takes a small step toward achieving that protection. We hope it sets an example of how traditional agriculture, informed by modern techniques, can successfully coexist with this irreplaceable ecosystem.

East Timor island sets new marine biodiversity record

Seacology works exclusively on islands because they are the world's greatest biodiversity hotspots. Endemic species—those found only in one place—occur disproportionately on islands. Because of many islands' small size and geographic isolation, these species are often at greater risk than their continental counterparts. Many face extinction.

A new study finds that Atauro Island, located just north of the island of Timor, is home to a mind-boggling average of 253 species of reef fish at each survey site, well ahead of the previous record set in West Papua, Indonesia. Altogether, the researchers recorded 642 species in the waters around the island.

Despite this incredible array of life, Atauro faces many of the same human-caused threats present throughout the world's oceans. The researchers found damaged reefs, evidence of blast fishing, and signs of overfishing of some species. They advised setting aside the area as a marine park in order to protect the extraordinary ecological treasure the island represents. They also suggested that locals—there are some 8,000 people living on the island—take an active role in its stewardship.

Read more at The Guardian.

Mangroves in the news

The momentum of Seacology's largest project to date—helping Sri Lanka protect all of its mangrove ecosystems—has attracted the attention of journalists around the world. This summer, we passed the first anniversary of the five-year project's launch and celebrated World Mangrove Day with the opening of the world's first mangrove museum. We invite you to peruse the great coverage of these milestones from the BBC, the Associated Press, Mongabay, and many others at our Press Center page.

Seacology Travel:
Cocos Island, Costa Rica

May 30–June 10, 2017
Join Seacology and first-class dive operator Undersea Hunter for a week of diving at one of the world’s premiere underwater destinations. Called “the most beautiful island in the world” by Jacques Cousteau, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Costa Rican national park is world-renowned for its stunning big-critter diving. This trip is geared toward experienced divers. Read more in our travel brochure.

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Thank you, Bay Area!

In the past months, we've introduced Seacology's work at two events in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks again to the Dolphin Club of San Francisco and the Pacific Islands Cultural Association, who hosted the recent Bay Area Aloha Festival. Both events provided great opportunities, right here in our own backyard, to discuss our unique model of conservation.

Seacology stickers

Share your passion for island conservation with one of our new Seacology stickers. For a limited time, we'll send one to all new donors and any existing donor who makes a gift of $10 or more.
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