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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update October- November 2013

Conservation in Thailand

During October the conservation project moved to its new home, Utopia, still in Ao Nammao but now surrounded by beautiful mangrove forest. Volunteers have been spotting all kinds of species in the area, including otters, macaques and many different bird species! The volunteers club house and restaurant area are surrounded by a small lake with a healthy fish population. Some of our volunteers have been jumping in for a quick dip when it gets hot in the midday.

Our relocation comes at the same time we have formed a partnership with Mangrove Action Project (MAP). This partnership means that our terrestrial conservation work will now concentrate on mangroves which are essential to coastal area eco-systems.

As November kicked in our marine biologist, Diego was busy planning and implementing new projects. We have added a grouper survey to our work in monitoring the health of the coral reefs. The grouper survey will be a Projects Abroad based survey but we will also be sharing our data with Phuket Marine Biological Centre. We have also been discussing future plans with Krabi Provincial Administrative Organization (KPAO) regarding surveying their artificial reefs.

The KPAO have asked the Thailand conservation team to help survey three different artificial reef sites. These surveys will help the KPAO see the rate of the artificial reefs development. Our survey work of these reefs will ultimately result in Projects Abroad producing a set of recommendations for the future use of artificial reefs in the area. Projects Abroad is honored to be given this responsibility which proves the good reputation we have built up with the local authorities over many years.

Conservation in Thailand

In November everyone at the project took part in the “The 3rd Cleaning fish’s home for our King”. This event is in honor of the King of Thailand in which we remove as much trash form the sea as possible. As Projects Abroad Thailand is already a major contributor to Dive Against Debris in Thailand we seen it as our responsibility to make sure we contributed to this day and helped out as best we could.

The event consisted of a 2 day clean up around Koh Phi Phi. The first day was around Phi Phi Lay and on the second day the dive site was around the tsunami memorial wall of Phi Phi Don. The overall debris salvaged by our volunteers and all the other volunteers from different organizations added up to around 3 tons of rubbish.

The highlight of the event was when we managed to salvage an anchor weighing over 80 Kg!

Diving Based Projects:

Green Fins Survey

October was a transition month for our scientific surveys because we focus our efforts on the Green Fins survey instead of Reef Check survey.

A total of 18 Reef Watch surveys were conducted by our volunteers during the month of October and November with a total amount of 52 roving surveys and 20934.4 m2 analyzed.

Different features of the environment are analyzed getting an average during this time:

Percentage Cover
Abundance of indicator species
Damaged of the reef
Damaged of the reef
Opinion of the reef health
Opinion of the reef health

Grouper survey

At the end of November we started a new survey in order to study the global health of the coral reef and the overfishing in the area. We are doing our self studies and also cooperate with PMBC providing our data.

A total of 3 Grouper surveys were conducted by our volunteers during the month of November with a total amount of 8 roving surveys and 2890.9m2 analyzed.

Abundance of grouper

Dive Against Debris

On October we started to cooperate closer with Ocean Conservancy and Projects Aware Foundation in providing data.

For the month of October and November our volunteers cleaned up debris in an area of over 22.810 square meters. This resulted in just over 89.7 kg of loose debris. Like the previous month, most of the debris consisted of fishing nets. On one particular site 20 glass bottles were salvaged. Volunteers did manage to untangle different animals, like hawksbill turtle from one of the nets.

Endangered Species Work

Conservation in Thailand

On October we improved our studies relating to the sightings of endangered species and began to cooperating closer with the Ocean Conservancy, Shark Guardians and our own Global Shark Campaign for Projects Abroad.

We spotted 5 hawksbill turtle, 10 dolphins, 1 black tip and 1 leopard shark.

Turtle Rehabilitation Work

In October and November we visited the Turtle Rehabilitation Center in PMBC. Our volunteers were split into two groups; some were introduced to some tanks that needed to be cleaned while others worked in the larger tanks where the Olive Ridley turtles lived. Volunteers helped to scrub the tanks and also the turtle shells.

After the work at PMBC Diego took the volunteers to the aquarium t where they had the opportunity to view the display with our expert Diego answering any questions they might have had.

The last stop on this day before returning home was a visit at the decompression chamber. The volunteers were taken on a tour and shown around the area and explained about the problems of unsafe diving. Kevin who is the manager there was extremely insightful and gave a great presentation.

Land Based Projects:

Mangrove Regeneration

Conservation in Thailand

During October we moved our tree nursery from our old accommodation to Utopia. Once that was set up our volunteers had the opportunity to go through the mangroves along the Krabi estuary on a long-tail boat and have a presentation work shop with Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The Krabi estuary is a RAMSAR protected site which is one of the highest internationally protection awards offered to a wetlands. We are extremely proud to be able to work in this area and provide data and support to its conservation.

During November our volunteers worked on a mangrove tree nursery system at Utopia where we are hoping that in the future we would be able to have at least one thousand mangrove seedlings. The volunteer’s carpentry skills helped us put together the trays that will be supporting the seedlings.

Also in November our volunteers were invited by MAP to join in on Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC) project inception workshop in Krabi at the Maritime Resort Hotel. The purpose for this workshop was to help protect communities from disasters and tackle the adverse effects of climate change. The Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC) project will investigate the role that healthy ecosystems play in reducing disaster risks and supporting community-based adaptation to climate change.

Beach Clean Ups

During October and November our volunteers took part in 4 coastal clean ups. One was at Khlong Muang beach, two in Ao Nang beach and the other at Ao Nam mao. From the 4 beaches a total of 293.5 kg of rubbish was picked up. The highest number was at Klong Muang beach where 204 kg of rubbish was picked up. From all the three sites 131kg of rubbish was considered to be recyclable rubbish, 22 kg sharp and 259.5kg trash.

The most item found were cigarette butts followed by beverage bottles and plastic bags.

Community Outreach Day

Lana animal Welfare

On the second Friday of every month the Projects Abroad Thailand team holds an outreach activity which all staff and volunteers help out. In October, Projects Abroad volunteers went to the Kho Lana Animal Welfare, an organization which houses unwanted cats and dogs. Our volunteers helped paint rooms, plant trees, and take care of dogs and cats. We also made short video clips of volunteers to help promote LAW centre as we have volunteers from around the world so we made it in different languages.

Loi Krathong

Conservation in Thailand

Besides working on a daily routine at placements and exploring beautiful sights of Andaman Sea, Projects Abroad volunteers from both Community and Conservation projects will be introduced to one of the most picturesque Thai celebrations called “Loi Krathong” on the full moon night of November. Every year on the full moon night of the 12th month in Thai lunar calendar or usually November in the western calendar, the festival is celebrated throughout the country. Loi Krathong literally means “Floating Crown” which is referring to buoyant decorations made of easily decomposed materials that are floated on a river. The festival was first held 800 years ago in Sukhothai period (an early kingdom in north central Thailand). People made a Krathong (the thing looks like lotus) from banana truck, leaves and flowers and also put candle and incense in the middle to venerate the Lord Buddha.

We held our Biodegradable Krathong Workshop in Ao Nang, a famous beach half hour away from town. We prepared biodegradable materials such as banana trunks, leaves and some colourful flowers for the Thai people to enjoy. There were also a lot of local people who joined us in making these biodegradable alternatives. We felt very happy to be part of this beautiful festivity and in encouraging people to use the environmental friendly materials. After finished making Krathong, we went to Krabi River in town to float our Krathongs. Some might question why are we floating things on a river? According to Buddhist belief, there are two main reasons for doing this, to honour the Lord Buddha in heaven and to thank the Mother or Goddess of Water who provides us the most important natural resource. It is also believed that this will bring fortune and let go of all bad luck in life!

Let’s hope it brings us luck in our conservation achievements for 2014!

Vishal Pawa
Conservation Project Manager, Thailand

Management Plan, Data & Reports

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