It’s been a few months since we updated our blog. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? PICI seems to be gaining momentum and setting some roots in the marine conservation arena. Firstly, our Cook Islands Turtle Project (CITP) received a Rufford Foundation grant for Dr. Michael White to carry out a 4-week expedition to Palmerston Atoll, Southern Cook Islands. The research team will spend the entire month of April assessing the current distribution, abundance, and population status of sea turtles on Palmerston (read CI News article here). CITP has been extremely busy planning the expedition logistics, but wants to send a heartfelt Thank You to the following companies for their support of our expedition:
Rufford Small Grants Foundation, of course! Check out the project on Rufford’s site!
CITC and Panasonic NZ for their donation of 2 Panasonic, waterproof Lumix digital cameras. These will help significantly in our in-water and beach surveys.
Uniden America Corporation for their donation of 2 handheld MHS75 Marine 2-way radios. The radios will allow our group to maintain contact across the motu
SPREP for their donation of our tags! We look forward to logging these into the regional database
Alex Stoy who is collecting all of our expedition goodies in the USA and who also facilitated our backcountry.com discount for red-light head torches (less intrusive to nesting turtles) and an adventure medical kit!
As I type this, Dr. White is aboard a Taio Shipping vessel heading south from Penrhyn, his home for the past 12 months! If you’d like, you can read his 2011 Annual Report on his work in the Cook Islands!
~Secondly, let’s talk about SHARRRRRRRRRRKS! We’re quietly making lots of progress here, including support and participation of the offshore fisheries staff in the Ministry of Marine Resources. When I say support, I don’t mean a public declaration, but I mean willingness to meet, work through regulations and to see if we can pave a pathway forward for the Cooks to ban the commercial fishing of sharks! It’s exciting to have a positive, working relationship with these folks, as they are the team that can make it happen the fastest. We’re still gaining local support and hope to begin our outer island visits next month. We’ve already received a letter from the Mayor of Manihiki, home island of our Prime Minister, in support of the creation of a shark sanctuary as well as letters from various community groups like the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and local NGO Te Ipukarea Society! Meitaki for your support!!
Finally, we recently announced the official launch of our Aitutaki Lagoon Monitoring Project (ALMP). Read about it here in Cook Islands News. Tina Weier, our fearless marine biologist and Science Office for ALMP, has been working hard to finalize research plans and is exciting to start working with the volunteers to collect baseline data on the lagoon’s health. There is a unique opportunity to gain credible scientific coral reef monitoring training, as well as contribute data to the Aitutaki Island Council to better manage their marine resources. If you’d like to participate, go to www.almp.picionline.org and book your spot!
That’s it for now, just a quick update! We’ll write again soon!