Citizen Science and Freediving for Marine Protection

Stairway’s collaboration with other groups advocating for children’s right to a safe and clean environment has opened up new opportunities to advance our campaign for marine protection in barangay Aninuan. We have partnered with the ABS CBN Foundation’s Project INSPIRE team to introduce a citizen science coral monitoring tool. Citizen science is a way to actively involve and give ownership to the public in research and local conservation efforts.

Citizen Science and the Alwan Method

During the Earth Day Talks last April 22, resource persons shared inputs on the Oil Spill in Mindoro. In addition, they introduced how citizen science can help solve environmental issues. By a simple method, any community member who knows how to skin dive or free dive can monitor the corals. This method is cheaper and apt for the Bignayan community in Aninuan.

One of the many endangered coral reefs needing protection.

Further, we also like the idea that if some community members know how to monitor the corals and record data, they can also help tell the stories to their fellow community members. Interestingly, the “Alwan” method is the name of the citizen science tool that Project INSPIRE wants to introduce. It’s a Tagalog term that means “comfort” or “easy,” which jives with the name of our program – EACY.

Free Diving

We started to provide formal free dive training for selected members from Bignayan and some boys from SFI’s Family Home Program. This group will compose our initial team of citizen scientists, and they just completed and additional week-long freediving citizen science training to further enhance their knowledge and skills.

Stairway children and members of the community learn freediving.

They will apply what they learned to start surveying and monitoring corals along the coast across the Bignayan community. The result of their survey and monitoring will help provide baseline data necessary for our marine protection campaign in Aninuan. We are excited to share this method with our network of youth groups across Puerto Galera who are interested in initiating a citizen science campaign in their communities with coral reefs.

Jason Abarquez, Program Coordinator, Environmental Awareness for Children and Youth (EACY)