Scientific Diving Success Story: Adam Jung

Adam Jung conducting an UVC survey with a team member

After graduating from Penn State in 2018, Adam Jung spent six months living in Ifaty, Madagascar working as a Research Assistant/Divemaster Intern for Reef Doctor, a non-profit organization focused on marine and coastal conservation and education. Ifaty is a small fishing village on the coast at Ranobe Bay, a semi-enclosed lagoon protected by an extensive barrier reef system in the Mozambique Channel in southwest Madagascar. The people of Ifaty are part of a tribe known as the Vezo (meaning “the people who fish”) and most families are completely reliant on fishing and exploiting coral reef natural resources to support themselves. Madagascar suffers from widespread pollution, deforestation, rapid population growth and unregulated fishing which has contributed to the degradation of many of the coral reefs along its coast. As an intern, Adam was involved in a wide range of work related to coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, aquaculture, fisheries and dive training with the main goal of helping to restore the natural habitat that the local communities rely on, and create sustainable ways for the Malagasy people to live.

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The Vezo people and their pirogues (a type of fishing boat) near the village of Ifaty

A significant portion of Adam’s work involved scientific diving. Adam was involved in the coral reef UVC (Underwater Visual Consensus) surveying project which was designed to collect data on the different biological communities underwater in order to estimate how the populations of certain species and health of the reefs were changing. Typically, a UVC survey consists of three team members each with a different role. The leader of the group is assigned to record the number, size and species of fish that he/she sees within a specified area along a transect. The second team member records the benthic organisms at certain intervals along the transect such as type of coral, sponge or algae. The third team member records species of invertebrates that are living within a specific distance from the transect. Along with collecting data while scuba diving, Adam was heavily involved in designing the program for inputting and analyzing the data, and teaching species identification and survey methods to other volunteers and employees.

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Juvenile batfish swimming by while divers are cleaning an artificial reef structure.

Adam also worked on constructing, installing and cleaning artificial reef structures, mapping dive sites inside marine protected areas and assisting with courses for other students to earn dive certifications. Adam earned his PADI divemaster certification in Madagascar and hopes to pursue graduate studies back in the U.S. where he can apply his experience as a diver.

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Making octopus pots for artificial reefs. They will be cement spheres with holes for octopus to enter and inhabit. Artificial reefs provide hard substrate for coral to grow on and places for fish and other organisms to hide from predators​

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Adam teaching students who study marine science at the University of Toliara how to calculate dive times.