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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update June 2008
After a quiet month in May, we saw volunteer numbers increase in June and were able to spend more time out in the field. After a few days of dive training, we joined other volunteers at Tung Prasan for World Environment Day on the 5th of June.
There were many of us altogether with our usual partners form the local community, staff form the Thai public electricity provider and students from NuakKlong high school. The day consisted in the typically Thai speeches from various officials and presentations, taking many group photos, eating rice together but most of all planting 2,500 saplings. The location consisted of the banks of a restored 'klong' (mangrove canal) and we planted mangroves (Rhizophora mucronata) at the water edge and other salt tolerant trees (pine trees) higher up on the banks.
Other mangroves related work in June included returning to our nursery; mainly to clean it up, after a long time without us visiting, and also as the day was called short by the heavy rain.
We were also visited by Aom and Gig who ran an estuarine ecology bio-workshop at the house and in the field. In the morning, the scientists gave a presentation on the topic and we then went at the mouth of the canal at Ao Tung. We looked in the sediment, using spoons and sieves but also with our hands a lot, for any kind of plant or animal that we could find. Aom and Gig told us what species they were and explained how they survive and interact with other species and the environment. They also showed us distinctive anatomical features which we sometimes had to observed using magnifying glass. We carried on field work after having lunch in the bus and returned to the house were the volunteers organised the various observed species in a food web.
In June, diving consisted mainly in collecting animal survey data. We spent 2 dives each at Koh Talud and Koh YaWaSam where we had placed iron rods into the seafloor to mark permanent transects for reef animal surveys. So we went back to carry out the surveys. Unfortunately, we found one rod at each site but were unable to find the second ones. We carried out surveys anyway: at Koh Yawasam we did a diversity survey which does not need to be carried out along a transect while at Koh Talud, as I was very certain of the location of the transect we were able to carry out the transect survey. Why the rod was missing is uncertain: maybe some divers removed it or the rough sea conditions which we experienced in May. The second visit consisted in looking for the rods again and attaching small floats onto them so that they will be easier to spot in the future. We also replaced the missing rod at Koh Talud.
More surveys were carried out at Koh See and Koh Dor, two other local sites and we also did some ReefWatch (coral condition survey) training.
On the best sightings list we had: a Tigertail seahorse, Great barracudas, a Khul's stingray, Giant and Many-spotted sweetlips and a sea snake.
In terms of salvage, we hoped to be able to get back to our ICRI (International Year of Coral Reefs) adopted site at MuSangNua. But unfortunately, the weather and tides did not allow this trip and on the one occasion that we thought we might be able to go, we had to change salvage site location and went to AoTung instead. The visibility in this sandy bay and with rough sea conditions was very poor but we still got 5kg of fishing net and line.
Other salvaged items this month included the usual metal cans and plastic bags as well as a toothbrush bringing our total salvage weight this month to a low 6kg.
Unfortunately, July promises to be much more productive as we just found the largest net that I have ever seen at. MuSangNua, a site where we sadly almost always find large fishing nets.
On land our total salvaged weight was much higher with 226.1kg of litter. This was collected at Klong Muang and Ao Tung beaches, where we picked amongst other things a fishing net and a massive Coca-Cola banner.
At the end of the month, the monsoon kicked in and we had to cancel two days diving. Volunteers never like it when diving days are cancelled so I would like to say thank you to Oliver, Dan and Nina for helping Knot and I with 'office-based' work with such enthusiasm and energy! In addition to the usual data entry and poster making for the house boards, they wrote down rules for the games that we play during awareness raising events at schools which will help a lot as those always run better with good co-ordination. They also illustrated a cover page for the new training manual and helped Knot translating the education signs from the mangrove boardwalk in Krabi. We are hoping to find funding to have new signs in English installed there soon. And as we are expecting more volunteers soon they prepared animal survey slates. These are used to record sightings while diving.
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.
10th July 2008
Director for Thailand Conservation