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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update August 2008
This month of August has been another busy month despite the low season here in Ao Nang. Once more the weather has been on our side, the sun was shining nearly everyday which is very unusual for a rainy season. Some of us were hoping to have more rain during the very hot mangrove days! We started the month with our second 2 week special session and had up to 11 volunteers. At the end of the month the number of volunteers was only 2. We were still busy with our activities but it was quieter at the house. Still fun though! Following is a summary of activities:
2- WEEK SPECIAL
Only 2 volunteers joined us for the second session of "2-week special" that took place the first 2 weeks of August.
So instead of having a separate programme for just 2 volunteers, we decided to include them in the team of the regular volunteers.
They also enjoyed extra activities such as a session of Muay Thai (Thai boxing), a nice relaxing Thai massage on the beach after work and an elephant trekking day.
These 2 weeks passed by too quickly as usual and we were all sad to see them leave us so soon.
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY AND BEACH CLEAN-UP
This month we collected a total of 722.5kg of rubbish in only 3 days of work!
The 12th of August was the Queen's birthday and events are always organized to celebrate the day. Together with Green Fins we decided to organize a beach clean-up on Ao Nang beach and Nopharatthara beach and invite anyone to join us.
The day was a success, many tourists resting on the beach decided to join us for part of their day and local hotels and bars joined as well.
Starbucks also took part of the event and offered iced coffee to everyone! At the end of the day we were proud to report that we collected a total of 431.5kg of rubbish, well done everyone!
Our second beach clean-up day was in Lam Pho Village, the beach has a lot of mangrove trees.
Many new saplings have been planted and some were badly entangled with plastic bags. We took time to remove them and collected a total of 283kg for the day.
Our last clean-up day was along a trail. Only 1 volunteer was left at the end of the month so instead of cleaning a long beach with only 3 people in total we decided to trek at the top of the highest hill in the area (Hon Nah trail, 535m high) and collected all the litter we could find on the way.
Our 2h walk along a small path in the rainforest was beautiful; we enjoyed the jungle noises (what was that??!!) and we found many unusual insects as well as huge ants!
The view at the summit was breathtaking, nice reward. After a delicious lunch we went back down and brought back 8kg of litter in total.
On the diving side, the month was busy and we got to do all sorts of activities: cleaning the coral nursery, salvaging the reefs, fish surveys and Reef Watch.
With a majority of experienced divers during this month, we took the opportunity to go back to finish cleaning the nursery on Viking Cave (Phi-Phi Ley island).
This nursery has been set up by Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) and we help maintaining and monitoring it.
As the weather was so good we also managed to go back to Mu Sang Nua to finish removing the big fishnet that was spotted last June. We brought up an additional 20kg to the 31kg already collected last month and we are very proud to see how much better the reef looks right now!
We also went to 2 local islands for more salvage, Koh Kai and Koh Kom, and brought back 7kg of litter, most of it consisting of fish lines, old fishnets and parts of fishtraps.
Other then salvaging and cleaning the coral nursery we also spent time under water to learn about fish and coral id and once the volunteers were comfortable enough about their id skills we did some more intense fish surveys and even Reef Watch. As usual we found a lot of different type of marine life with some unusual and exciting sightings such as:
Great barracudas, Pickhandle barracudas, Batfishes, squids and Pharao cuttlefishes, Kuhl stingrays, Scribble filefishes, Big eye trevallies, Sea snakes, a Globe sea urchin, very big jelly fishes, 4 Short-tailed pipefishes, 3 Tigertail seahorses, different species of nudibranches (Glossodoris atromarginata, Risbecia pulchella), Squat shrimps and other small Commensal shrimps, many Black tip reef sharks and 3 Leopard sharks.
I will never forget the experience I had diving with Richard on Anemone Reef; a Leopard shark decided to become friends with us!?
They usually rest on the sandy bottom during the day but this one followed us for 15min. It showed no sign of aggressiveness, it was just swimming around us gracefully and was very calm. We think it was just curious and playful that day. A lifetime memory!
Last but not least, I will describe our mangrove experience in this last paragraph. We spent a total of 3 days at our nursery site, Baan Thung Prasan. One day was spent clearing the area around our seedlings and it all finished in a mud fight!
Our monthly workshop this month was about mangroves and Dominic Wodehouse from Wetlands International gave us a presentation in the morning at the house. In the afternoon we went to the site with him and he gave us good advice on how to optimize the water flow in our nursery area. And it all finished in a mud fight again! On the 3rd day, Richard and I went back to finish digging the new canal for the water flow.
I have now finished describing this busy month, stay tuned for our next monthly update!
Click here and see our graphs of the amount of rubbish the volunteers have collected from the reefs and beaches here in Ao Nang in August 2008 - impressive work.
Click here and see our graphs of the amount of rubbish the volunteers have collected from the reefs and beaches here in Ao Nang over 2008 - impressive work.
Field coordinator for Thailand Conservation