Diving & Marine Conservation Volunteering in Thailand - Monthly Updates
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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update June/July 2011
It’s been a busy summer here at the conservation project in Thailand. So let me begin by filling you in on all the cool stuff that has been going on here…
Our full time Marine Biologist, Linnea, has been working extremely hard this summer developing our conservation projects and moving them into the international arena. She has also been working on developing partnerships within the local community aiming to utilise our skills and resources.
Together with the help of our Field Co-ordinator, Punch and her connections with the local community, our projects are having an incredible impact on the costal and marine environment around the Krabi area and are ensuring these areas will continue to be protected for future generations.
So here’s a summary of the new and existing long term projects we have been involved with over the last few months:
Since June 2011, we have been proudly carrying out weekly Reef Check Surveys and sharing our data with Reef Check International. Given our regular high numbers of volunteers, the amount of data we collect is of fundamental importance to understanding the health and degeneration of the coral reef systems in the Andaman Sea and Thailand.
Over the next months, I will be sharing with you some interesting facts about the data we have collected, how that data is being used and what we have learned from doing these surveys.
Dive Against Debris
This is brand new international project set up by Projects Aware as a year-round data and debris collection effort, aiming to reduce the devastating impacts of trash and debris on our reefs on a global scale.
We became one of the first members of this project and have already received a letter from the director thanking us for the invaluable amount of data which we have been sharing and for our eco-diving practices, he wrote,
“Thanks for submitting your Dive Against Debris data. Your data will help prevent harmful rubbish from entering the ocean. Please pass my thanks to the whole Projects Abroad team!
Re your comment: "The fish trap was found about one month ago, but was left because of cuttlefish eggs inside it. Holes were cut in the net to let fish out. Now the eggs are hatched, and the trap brought up." - Outstanding work!
This is the sort of smart diving we love to see - well done!!”
After much consideration and consultation we have decided to postpone this project in order to allow the surrounding coral reefs to rebuild naturally. The reefs suffered tremendous damage last year due to a rise in water temperature which resulted in wide spread coral bleaching.
The nurseries and artificial reef will remain in place, and we will still visit them regularly to make repairs and clean, until such time as we decide to restart this project.
LAND BASED ACTIVIES
Once a month we volunteer our time at the fisheries department in order to help with the maintenance of the outdoor aquarium.
The centre breeds endangered species in large salt water lakes next to the coast, for research and conservation, so there is usually lots to be done. Most fish are eventually released back into the sea in order to boost the local populations and we will be getting more involved in the release program over the next few months.
In July, one of our volunteers was interviewed by a Chillian TV crew whilst at the fisheries; they were filming there for a documentary.
Mangrove Forest Regeneration
Our mangrove sites are coming along nicely. Over the summer we planted over 1500 mangrove saplings in our newly donated site alone! We have already seen an increase in the wildlife that is returning to the area including a number of baby sea snakes!
We have been collecting 4 types of mangrove seeds and successfully growing them in our mangrove nursery. We have all stages of seed germination and growth in operation. We have been using our very own home grown saplings to repopulate the decimated areas which are being systematically destroyed by shrimp farming and the development of the costal regions.
It has been a beautiful experience for everyone to be actively involved in the whole process from seed collection to planting the saplings.
We also have been compiling comparative studies of the healthy and unhealthy mangrove forests, working in conjunction with international Mangrove Action Project. In July, this involved a kayaking survey around the local mangroves to compare the species of flora and fauna seen in the different sites.
Beach Clean Ups
Over the summer we collected on average 175kg of trash from local beaches on each one of our clean ups! And this is low season!
We met with several local people who told us of beaches that have large amounts of trash covering them and asking for our help. We also managed to get some locals involved who regularly help us out on a weekly basis, including Poppy – a gorgeous 1 year old golden Labrador who loves to collect the plastic bottles for us!
Costal Habitats and Resource Management (CHARM)
The last few months has seen us pushing the education aspect of the project. We have been getting out and into the public realm, offering information on our conservation practices and what everyone can do to help.
Working in connection with CHARM, a European Union endorsed program dedicated to the education of Thai people about the conservation of coastal habitats, our volunteers have built information displays and designed bilingual posters which provide information to the local community.
Community and Schools Projects
Being amongst the local community and school children is always one of the highlights of the project. Over the summer we were invited to join the local villagers of Pakasai to plant over 500 mangroves.
We also, helped paint a local school and in return the school children helped us collect trash from the surrounding area.
Finally, July hosted the Projects Abroad 2 Week Special Programme. We had a total of 15 volunteers staying with us for 2 weeks helping us out on the above projects. In addition we got to go trekking through the jungle on elephants, take out sea kayaks, visit the gibbon rehabilitation centre, have picnics on the beach and so much more! A great and totally memorable experience was had by all!
So I’ll sign off for now, but please keep checking out this page as I will be providing regular monthly updates on how the projects are going and giving you the news on any exciting and special events we have been involved in.
Until next month,
Conservation Director, Thailand July 2011