About ReefScan... and reef scanning...
The origin of ReefScan relates to I started developing innovative camera technology in 2005 specifically to substitute traditional field methods for assessing marine biodiversity. These methods involved mapping coral reefs in 3D using photogrammetry and building underwater camera traps to capture the presence of elasmobranchs and large marine vertebrates.
Marine Biodiversity & Livelihoods...
While I was innovating these methods, I also started to study the livelihoods of fishers and coastal communities interacting with the biodiversity. An extreme weather event relating to climate change was about to contextualise my work.
Victory Island, Samar, Philippines
On November 8th just after 4am, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines...
On November 7th, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, made landfall in Guiuan in the Philippines breaking world records with sustained wind speeds of 315km/h.
Members of FAO, WFP, DFID and Shelterbox were aware that I had been living and working for years alongside coastal and island communities specifically in the region where the typhoon passed and that I had been recording data and observations regarding livelihoods, marine biodiversity, food security and insecurity risks particularly related to mortality rates in small scale fisheries.
Within a few days, I was invited to brief Shelterbox teams and other NGO's and assist with logistics in landing aid in the region. I also advised consultants from FAO and DFID who had limited experience in the region regarding boat building methods, livlihoods and socio political relationships in the region.
In the following months, I assisted NGO's, Intergovernmental Organisations and local government in their efforts while working often day and night to evacuate victims of the disaster from remote islands providing first aid, oxygen administration and other relief from my training as a dive professional.
I visited communities I had previous contact with from the central Visayas region out to the Pacific where landfall and empowered them with water testing kits which I trianed them to use as many supplies were contaminated mainy due to severe deforestation and consequential run off of effluent into drinking water supplies.
The Rotary of Fort Lauderdale, Florida donated nearly $250,000 worth of water filters to my efforts...
I wanted to empower a sense of community resilience at this time of climate change disaster, particularly as these archepelagic and coastal communities were fragmented both geographically and also in many ways isolated in terms of empathy...
In December 2013, a group of key NGO's contacted me aling with Vestergaard Lifestraw to tell me that they wanted me to take charge of the distribution of water filters in the disaster struck region.
They asked me to choose what kind of filter I thought would suit best to the island communities I had been working with. I chose a gravity fed filter designed to be used in a community setting each unit capable of producing 250,000 litres of water. The only problem was, I had no funds to pay for customs, taxes, shipping, transport and distribution, so at this point I formed reefscan as a website to direct donations to empower my water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiative .
I was stunned by the technology as were the stakeholders as we performed tests to see how effective the filters were.