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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update September 2011
Wow….what a month! September 2011 was nominated as International Clean-up month by environmental agencies worldwide. The conservation volunteers, together with our dedicated team, have been out there cleaning the beaches, the reefs and the ocean. In addition, we have been working on outreach projects, educating the local community and school children.
We have had a lot of rain this month, several monsoons passed through and we suffered some of the heaviest downpours this area has seen for a while. Although this weather soaked our volunteers out in the field, it never dampened their attitude. They surveyed the reefs, collected trash and worked in the mangrove swamps whatever the weather and came back laughing and smiling (and once or twice completely covered in mud!)
Despite the difficult weather conditions, the volunteers have demonstrated an incredible commitment to the projects we run here, through sheer hard work and a never ending supply of enthusiasm.
So let me update you on the specific projects…
Diving Based Projects
Reef Check Survey
Our Reef Check Survey is running smoothly as the volunteers are learning more and more about methods for monitoring the reefs. The volunteers surveyed 11 sites and we carried out our first survey at Koh Mae Urai where we found many healthy hard corals.
On 8th September we counted over 500 feather stars at Koh Bida Nok, these are a great indicator for the diversity of invertebrates on the reef. In addition, on 13th September, at Koh Yawasam, we saw many blue lined snapper, a species we have not seen before.
Our favourite find this month was a small hawksbill turtle hanging out along the coral reef, eating sponges at Anemone Reef.
Project AWARE – Dive Against Debris Survey
We carried out a total of 11 Dive Against Debris dives this month at 10 different dive sites, dedicating the last week of diving solely to this project.
Linnea was pleased to report that at Maya Corner, there was not one piece of trash found and only 0.5kg was collected at 3 other nearby sites. This is a very good sign.
From the other sites, we removed a lot of fishing tackle, line and found several traps. One very large abandoned fish trap had to be marked, then we returned with a lift bag to bring it up for disposal.
Our most interesting find this month was a Malaysian coin from 1969.
We removed a hefty 60kg of debris from the ocean this month – awesome result!
Land Based Projects
We concentrated our efforts this month at our Talan site. During September we planted an impressive 358 mangrove tree saplings which we had grown ourselves in our mangrove nursery.
Unfortunately when we returned on 26th September, 10% of our saplings had not survived the re-plantation process. This was an upset to our planting program, however, we have analysed the soil and other factors that may have affected the saplings and we will try a different species of tree in this area next month.
Beach Clean Ups
September saw us complete our first official data collection for the UNESCO funded Ocean Conservancy Beach Debris Survey.
We completed 3 beach cleans during the month, including two which involved the local community so that we could combine the clean up with education.
On 16th September we invited the children of Klong Muang School to join us to clean their local beach. This beach is used by the locals on the weekend for family picnics. Also the long tail boat drivers fix their boats along this beach. These two factors mean that there is a large amount of trash in this area. The Thailand National Guard who are based in the area saw our efforts and came out to help us! It was a remarkable gesture which reinforced our environmental message in the minds of the school children.
On 20th September we cleaned the beach at the Nopparat Thara National Park which is visited by hundreds of tourists each week.
Whilst on 30th September we got together with the local government and local dive centres, hotels and businesses to clean up Ao Nang Beach together. This was quite a display of community spirit and our display boards became the centre point of information for locals and tourists alike.
For those of you that like stats….
Total trash collected in September : 713 kg (159kg recyclable)
On 9th September the Fisheries Department asked us to help them repair their filter system in the outdoor aquarium. Working in line with the 3 R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) we used an old, discarded fishing net to make a filter to collect the debris that enter the tanks. We were informed that this system has been successful.Other Stuff…
As always we strive to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint. This month we shifted towards a paperless office. We carry out between 5 to 8 surveys each week, which was producing an incredible amount of paper, so we have created our very own reusable Data Sheets from which we enter the data collected onto online spreadsheets, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Also, we have designed an organic composting system which we will be building next month. We predict that this will produce enough compost to use in our mangrove nursery and we have plans for building an organic vegetable patch too.
The volunteers have been making the most of their free time and have travelled by longtail boat over to Railay for the weekend, taken rock climbing lessons, trekked to the crystal cave and have been swimming along the river.
On Friday 24th, we all headed into Krabi Town to celebrate Punch’s 21st (again!) birthday. We had a great time, hanging out together and meeting local people, sampling great food including steamed spring rolls and bbq’d river fish, listening to live music, dancing the night away and, of course, eating lots of birthday cake!
The last week of September was super busy as we began the big move to our new premises at The Dawn of Happiness Eco-resort on Ao Nammao beach. We are all extremely excited to be officially moving in on 1st October, when we will celebrate with a beach party and BBQ, whilst watching the sunset over the sea.
As always, I would like to thank all the volunteers for their hard work and support for this project - we wouldn’t be here without you. You all make the world a better place, on every level.
Conservation Director, Thailand