Diving & Marine Conservation Volunteering in Thailand - Monthly Updates
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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update January 2012
The conservation team and volunteers had a great start to 2012 as everyone enjoyed a buffet dinner together in Ao Nang then headed to the beach to watch a spectacular firework display.
The month has flown by, so here's a summary of what we have been doing to help save this little piece of the planet....
Diving Based Projects
Reef Check Survey
We carried out our indicator species surveys at 9 different sites this month. It was a great start to the year as we spotted some really unusual species.
During our first dive of 2012 we were lucky to spot an orangespined unicorn fish which is really rare here. Whilst on the last dive of the month, we saw a couple of purple sea dragons - awesome!
As we carried out our roaming underwater surveys, we had up close and personal encounters with some of the ocean's predators! Throughout the month we saw five moray eels within the survey area around Koh Bida Nai, a large sea snake at Koh Ya Wa Sam, a school of great barracuda at Koh Ya Wa Bon and 10 black tip reef sharks and a leopard shark at Ao Nui!!
We also spotted the small stuff, including several different species of nudi branchs and a total of four tigertail sea horses - sooooo cute!
Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris Survey
We swept clean 6 different dive sites during January. Mostly we had sunny conditions except one day when the winds were high and it was a bit like diving in the rough seas of England!
We collected a total of 24.5 kg from the ocean floor and coral reefs.
As usual we found mainly fishing debris, including several nets which had got caught up on the reefs, damaging the corals. We were able to cut the netting out of an abandoned fishing trap, releasing the fish that had been caught in there.
We were all saddened to see a very large honeycomb grouper swimming around with a large hook through its mouth. The hook had imbedded itself into such a position that the poor fish could not close its mouth which means that it will not be able to feed. Linnea and the volunteers did try to help, but it was impossible to get close enough to remove the hook.
Land Based Projects
This month we had the opportunity to be taken around the lowland forests around Khlong Thom, an area of outstanding beauty and where some of the last natural forests in Thailand exist.
The experts from Chaing Mai University lead a trek through the forest to collect seeds from various hard wood and fruit producing trees. These were then taken back to the nursery where the scientists carry out experiments on the seeds in order to cultivate faster growing practices.
We also planted some seeds at our own tree nursery and we are excited to watch them grow.
Beach Clean Ups
We have a great start to the New Year as our beach cleans recovered 434 kg of trash from the beautiful beaches around Ao Nang and Krabi. Of this amount 56 kg was taken to the recycle station and we removed 70 kg of items which were dangerous or hazardous. We worked hard to keep the beaches clean and safe for locals and tourists, also removing this debris from the beaches stops it from entering the ocean.
We cleaned the Noppharat Thara National Park twice this month and on both occasions we were helped by some school children who were there on a school excursion.
Also, during our last clean up of the month on 27th January, we cleaned Klong Muang beach, which is the most stunning stretch of white sand and is where a lot of the exclusive hotels are based. We were delighted when some families who were there on holiday saw our efforts and joined us for the entire clean up!
The volunteers did a great job of including everyone and passing on the important information about what happens to coastal and marine debris.
It was clear to all that we take great pride in the environmental work we do here and in getting the message across at every opportunity.
Endangered Species Work
January saw our introduction to our work with the scientists based at the Phuket Marine and Biological Centre.
Linnea completed some specific scientific survey training at the lab in December and this month she passed on this training and information to our volunteers.
Immediately the volunteers were able to complete an Endangered Species Sightings Data Sheet, when they spotted dolphins whilst on their way to a dive site and also saw several turtles both underwater and on the surface.
School and Community Project
We celebrated National Children's Day on Friday 13th January with over 100 children from the local Baan Nhong Thalae School where all the Projects Abroad volunteers based in Thailand came together to play educational and fun games with the children. Everyone had an amazing time and lasting memories were formed.
It is our dream here to create 'Guardians' of the forest by teaching the children of Krabi about the importance of protecting their environment. To do this we have to think up new and interesting ways to keep getting the message across.
This month we went to a small village school in Khlong Thom and painted a mural on the school walls, depicting nature. It is our hope that this mural will create a daily visual reminder for the children.
The project took us two days to complete and was hard work in the heat of the January sun. On the first day we started by cleaning and priming the outside walls, then we applied a base coat.
The second week we returned and the fun began as volunteers and children painted a forest scene with animals and trees (and they painted each other too!!) The end result looks fantastic!
This will be sure to inspire these local children and be a constant reminder of their connection to the forest.
We also targeted the tourists this month, as we see Ao Nang becoming super busy this high season. The volunteers went to the beaches armed with surveys to assist the Association for the Protection of the Environment to collect information to develop strategies on minimising tourist impact on the costal and marine areas around Krabi.
January saw a 'work hard, play hard' attitude from the volunteers! Evening activities included football matches, yoga on the beach and slack-lining. Whilst weekends were taken up with caving, abseiling, rock climbing, muay thai (kick boxing) lessons, climbing the 1200+ steps to Tiger Cave Temple, swimming in the natural lagoon known as The Emerald Pool and trekking through the jungle to a spectacular view point.
Well done to all the volunteers for all the enthusiasm, hard work and laughter this month!
I'm really looking forward to the upcoming activities, events and fun we will all have in February :)
Conservation Director, Thailand