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Coastal Ecology

For the coastal ecology section of this semester, we worked primarily with the coastal expert, Dr. Matt Richmond. This man has lived primarily in Australia and England but traveled around the globe to more remote locations than I can remember. He wrote the majority of the field guide on the Indian Ocean that we use as our textbook and even helped illustrate many of the aquatic drawings. We went on four field trips with him to four different islands. We enjoyed the underwater views at each while snorkeling but we also learned techniques for coastal fieldwork such as using quadrats and line transects to determine species density. We even went “manta-towing”. This activity is actually used scientifically as a means of underwater observation but we just partook in the activity as a thrilling joy ride. Basically, there is a wooden board about one foot by four feet. Holding the board so that it is wider than it is tall, holes are drilled into each end and a rope is attached to each end. The ropes are then attached to the back of the boat and the wooded board is placed in the water. We took turns, one at a time, and slid into the water with our snorkeling gear on and laid face down in the water holding onto the board with our hands outstretched in front of our head. Once we are in position, the boat turns on it’s motor and begins to drive along over the coral reef. Imagine tubing but a slightly a slightly sketchier set up with a supremely improved view.

Aaaaaanyway, for the final project in this class the eight of us students were split into four groups of two. Each pair was required to write a paper and then present for ten to fifteen minutes on our findings. Each pair was assigned two reefs we snorkeled during throughout the semester and the assignment was to asses the health of each reef and come up with creative yet realistic conservation plans.

To determine the heath of each reef, this is the list of indicators we had to look for:

*Presence of the four indicator fish (trigger fish, butterfly fish, groupers, parrot fish)

*Presence of Crown of Thorn starfish

*Presence of sea urchins

*Bleached or diseased or broken coral

*Presence of fishing or destructive fishing practices (lines, nets, traps, etc)

*Presence of human activity (destruction from tourists hitting their fins on the coral while snorkeling)


*Coastal development

With all those health indicators in mind… understand that my partner and I chose to present our data in RAP form. Yes I am cool. I rap about fish.

Sooo…. without further ado I present to you, my gracious audience, my Coral Conservation Rap! *I am sorry I am unable to share a video. For those who know me, I am sure you can imagine what I would look like performing this.

Coral Conservation Rap (Watoto Bop Take #1)

By Olivia Gramprie & Caroline Ladlow


This is our coral conservation rap.

Watoto Bop take #1.

This is DJ Fatma Slick and Queen Latifa coming at you from SIT Stone Town

This is an educational rap. Creative conservation plan.

Two reefs we had and will discuss.

One unprotected, one half-protected were given to us.

The former was Bawe not far from Stone town,

Misali, the later, of Pemba where we faffed around.

Both appeared healthy upon first look,

But then we got a lesson from the Matt Richmond book.


In order for a reef to be perfectly biodiverse

It needs sea grass, soft coral, hard coral, and the works.

There are four indicator species that mustn’t be shy

We got trigger, grouper, parrot, and butterfly.

There are other signs that might signal trouble

Like the crown of thorns, sea urchins, and coral rubble.

Boat traffic, fishing, tourism, and trash

All cause permanent harm you couldn’t fix with any amount of cash!

Bawe, our unprotected reef…

It has no conservation plan so we’ve got to give it one!

The health of this reef was quite surprising,

Not always are protected reefs better we are realizing.

The abundance of fish, colors, and species galore

Extended for great distances off the shore.

Three of the four indicator fish were found,

Many butterfly, some parrot, two trigger, but no grouper around.

Destructive crown of thorns were pleasantly lacking,

Which allowed the coral species to grow without cracking.

Unfortunately, the boat ride showed presence of waste,

Demonstrating how fisherman and tourists often behave in poor taste.


 The second reef, Misali, unprotected on the East side,

Which we sadly missed out on due to the tide.

The West side however, left us with plenty to see.

We determined it was healthy, viewing all four indicator samaki.

Before we share what we found, you must hold onto your seat.

What are these? – 7 parrot fish of various kinds

And these? – 36 beautiful butterfly fish

Oooo and what are these? – At least 10 groupers

Ah! What is this? – And only 1 trigger fish

Is that all you found? Shouldn’t there be more?

Sawa sawa I’ll continue. I didn’t want to be a bore.

We saw octopus fisherman and 2 dema traps

No crown of thorns eating coral as snacks

But sadly a great number of urchins were seen

Oh! And a hawksbill sea turtle just escaped the scene

No way! That’s pretty neat! I hope no one fell out of their seat.


Both reefs seemed fine but biodiversity can be improved

Conservation plans make sure no resource is over used.

Why save the reefs? One may ask.

These are the reasons it is a necessary task.

Reefs protect the coast, provide income, and supply people with food.

If they want tourists to visit, locals need to change their attitude.

At Bawe we aim to promote sustainable recreation

By becoming an MPA and encouraging environmental education

Halting harmful practices, giving the reef its deserved relaxation.

With this plan in place everyone will enjoy a more pleasant vacation.

On the other fin, Misali, which is already protected,

Requires additional funding to ensure it won’t be further impacted.

To increase tourism, Misali must be promoted as a reef unaffected.

Accessibility is important so the one boat we saw has got to be resurrected!


 Alright, it is time to wrap this rap up!

To conclude our presentation, this is what we uncovered.

Reefs must be protected to save what is known and what has yet to be discovered.

A management plan is necessary for this to be done,

So that all the people and fish can have oodles of fun… in the sun.

Also, giant clams equals underwater.

And we love the black saddled Toby.

In the sun…

And the rain…

They are always cute.


Maybe one day soon I will be able to actually share the video. Yes one exists but that is something for you all to look forward to right?

Go out and learn how to rap yourself! Or don’t learn and just give it your best attempt! I had an absolute blast creating this, I will admit to a significant amount of coffee being involved. It was more than necessary.

Just do something creative. Do something you have never done before!

~Olivia/Fatma~ I don’t even know my real name anymore… <3



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