When Vittoria Annoscia -Thornley discovered the Philippines through her first Earthwatch expedition in 1999, she found a place that she would build a long lasting bond with. And in 2019 she celebrated her 20th anniversary with the ‘Saving Philippine Reefs’ project.
“I love diving and I’m also very passionate about conservation,” says Vittoria, explaining why the relationship has lasted so many years.
The Sulu Fund for Marine Conservation Earthwatch partnership (now Coastal Conservation & Education Foundation or CCEF) that Vittoria volunteers with visits different sites each year so she has experienced a diverse collection of locations and survey sites. As well as coral surveys and monitoring, the organisation works with local communities to help them protect the precious reefs, many of which are designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Vittoria has noted dramatic changes over the years, whilst gaining a better understanding of the factors affecting the health of the reef, as well as requirements needed to protect MPAs.
“I’m very worried about coral reefs. They’re a fabulous, extremely diverse habitat - there’s nothing like it on the planet. A happy reef is the most phenomenal habitat, just teeming with life and absolutely fascinating.”