From Intern to Dolphin Guardian: Protecting Cambodia’s Marine Mammals

Becky Chambers, a passionate advocate for marine conservation, found her calling amidst the azure waters of Cambodia’s coastal paradise. Graduating with a degree in Zoology from the UK, her thirst for adventure led her to Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), where she embarked on a transformative journey.

Enamored by MCC’s hands-on approach to marine conservation, Becky immersed herself in the study of Cambodia’s rich marine ecosystems during her internship. From learning to scuba dive to conducting seahorse surveys and building Fisheries Production Structures, she gained invaluable insights into the intricate web of life beneath the waves.

Inspired by the plight of Cambodia’s marine mammals, particularly the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and dugongs, Becky dedicated herself to their protection. Recognizing these charismatic creatures as vital indicators of ecosystem health, she resolved to shine a spotlight on their often-overlooked existence.

Returning to Cambodia after completing her Master’s in Marine Conservation, Becky assumed a leadership role at MCC’s Cambodian Marine Mammal Conservation Project. Together with a dedicated team, including local researcher Phon Sopheanie, she spearheaded efforts to safeguard these vulnerable species.

Becky Chambers, centre, Lead Scientist at MCC’s Cambodian Marine Mammal Conservation Project, conducts a dolphin survey using a binocular to spot dolphins from a distance at Prek Thnaot fishing community, Kampot. Supplied

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The project, a beacon of research-led conservation, aims to gather crucial data on dolphin behavior, abundance, and habitat preferences. Armed with binoculars and cameras, Becky and her team embark on rigorous surveys, documenting every sighting with meticulous detail.

Their efforts have borne fruit, with the discovery of dugongs in Cambodian waters marking a significant milestone in marine conservation. Yet, the journey is far from over. Illegal fishing and habitat destruction continue to threaten the delicate balance of Cambodia’s marine ecosystems.

Becky’s vision extends beyond research; she seeks to foster a culture of ocean stewardship among Cambodians. Through education and advocacy, she hopes to inspire future generations to cherish and protect their marine heritage.

For Becky and her team, the ocean isn’t just a vast expanse of water—it’s a lifeline, teeming with diverse life forms waiting to be discovered and protected. Their tireless dedication serves as a beacon of hope for Cambodia’s marine mammals and the ecosystems they call home.

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Tom Starkey
Author: Tom Starkey

Tom Starkey is an International Development graduate from Sussex University with 12-years of experience across 4 continents, Tom's goal is that he wants to showcase his love for Cambodia, where he lives, works and now happily calls home.

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