Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update January/February 2011
January and February were busy months in Ao Nang with up to 18 volunteers on the marine conservation project. Even though we are supposed to be in the middle of the dry season, the weather has been very wet and windy which made it difficult for us to access the dive sites that we wanted to and some days it was impossible to dive at all!
- Salvage and Crown of Thorns removal:
Despite the bad weather, we were able to do 13 salvage dives and collect a total of 20kg mostly of fishing nets, cages and lines but also the usual plastic bottles, cans, food wrappers...
We also removed 16 Crown of Thorns (COTS) and spotted another 6 that we will go back for in March. Those starfish feed on corals and when in high number can cause high coral mortality leading to real ecological problems (such as on the Great Barrier Reef or Fiji). In Thailand, we have observed high densities of COTS for the last 3 years and the authorities have asked us to help control the population in order to make sure it does not become a problem. We have observed some serious damage at some sites where we had not been able to go for a long time and numbers of COTS exceeded 50 individuals per km2 (the natural density is 3-5 per km2).
- This month, six volunteers took part in Reef Check training and certified as Ecodivers. They were able to carry out one survey at Koh Haa. Congratulations to Darshan Patel who is the first volunteer to complete all 3 sections of the course: fish, substrate and invertebrates and coral damage! Well done, Darsh!
We had several days in the mangroves at three different sites:
- After not being able to visit our site at Baan Thung Prasan for several months due to floods and damage to the road, we were finally able to re-visit to find the site in a ‘not so bad’ condition. There hasn’t been too much mortality in the saplings that we planted and a few hours of removing weeds and invasive species should make more space for them to grow. Unfortunately, the on-site nursery did not do so well. Nearly all the seedlings died probably due to the floods that lasted for nearly 3 months.
- Volunteers also spent 2 days at the new Pakasai site where they cleared invasive species and planted some mangrove saplings.
- We also spent a day in nearby Laem Pho area where volunteers collected 140 seeds from 4 different species. Those were later planted in the J. Nursery (behind the tool shed near J. Guesthouse).
Land based clean-ups
In February we did 2 clean-ups and collected a total of 228kg. The first clean up was at Laem Pho beach while the second clean up first involved climbing to the top of Hon Na (aka View Point) while litter was collected on the way down. On the first site, debris mostly comes with the tide, rain and wind whereas at the second site, litter is brought by visitors who come trekking… The litter left on the trails will eventually end up in the ocean or at Leam Pho…
At the Krabi Fishery Department in Laem Pho, volunteers helped the local staff with the maintenance of the ponds dykes. Some weeds were taking over the banks and had to be removed. This was very hard work and there was not enough time to clear the entire area… we may be back next month.
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
This project based in a national park in the North of Phuket aims at rehabilitating gibbons that were seized by Thai authorities as they were illegally kept or traded as well as educating the public. The volunteers made a day-trip there to learn more about this species as well as illegal animal trade and wildlife rehabilitation.
Ao Nang, Thailand