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Projects Abroad Thailand Marine Conservation – Bimonthly Report May-June 2015
May has been extremely hot here in Thailand and the rain started in late June. The weather has made for some quality diving and volunteers have been extremely happy.
In May, volunteers participated in painting temples as a community outreach. They also had the opportunity to take part in the turtle rehabilitation project, which was part of June’s community outreach.
Endangered Species Sightings
The endangered species surveys continue on a regular basis. Data from 37 new dives has been added to our internal database and inputted through the Shark Guardian website, totalling 212 entries.
Data analysis now shows a 41% chance of encountering one or more endangered species when diving. Chances of encountering endangered species continue to be higher around Phi Phi islands rather than around Local islands.
A more in-depth analysis shows a 32% chance of encountering a shark, 13% of encountering a turtle and 19% of encountering a ray. In all instances, encounters are usually solitary.
Fish Population Survey
The fish population survey is being conducted steadily on every diving day. These past two months have been particularly fruitful, resulting in multiple survey teams being in the water simultaneously, on more than a couple occasions.
Recent volunteers have shown a particular interest in fish identification and have passed their exams seamlessly almost always on their first try, despite the reduced visibility and less than optimal diving conditions found during rainy season.
The underwater training booklets have been numbered and placed in an individual pouch, which is handed out on arrival, along with the rest of the diving equipment and can be clipped to the volunteer’s BCD for easy access and storage. These booklets are provided to the volunteers as a learning aid during the fish ID training, the fish ID exam and the surveys themselves, to clear any possible momentary doubt.
11 volunteers have successfully completed the training and proceeded to gather a total of 38 data logs.
Coral Watch Survey
A new activity has been implemented for volunteers who stay three weeks or less: the Coral Watch Survey. This activity requires considerably less training and allows volunteers who don’t have the time to prepare for the fish population survey or who cannot dive (snorkelers) to take part in a worldwide data collection effort to help determine the health status of our coral reefs. A teaching package has been ordered and will soon be available for all volunteers to use, complete with videos, books, posters and much more.
Dives Against Debris
In addition to usual trash collection on normal training dives, we have started to allocate two specific Dive Against Debris days each month. During these days, we chose to dive where there is a great number of tourist boat traffic and we concentrate solely on collecting trash. With the addition of four Dives against Debris, over the course of the past two months, we removed a total of 188.7kg of trash from the sea.
Education and awareness
The past two months was all about creating awareness in the primary schools around the Krabi district. Marine Conservation volunteers were taught some basic Thai phrases and had to prepare topic-related presentations and fun games.
Creating awareness among school children about our environment, our beautiful mangroves and the benefits of recycling has been a big success and a great experience for the school children as well as for the volunteers.
The beautiful island of Koh Klang, located in the Krabi estuary, is undergoing severe erosion. To slow this process down, Marine Conservation volunteers have joined Raks Thai, a local NGO, in planting over 3500 Aavicinnea Marina. During the third week of June, the monsoon struck the area where the seedlings have been transplanted. 50% of the bamboo structures, which forms the barrier, were destroyed. Luckily, 90% of the seedlings survived!
Site 1 of the Mangrove Action Project is being monitored. Certain species are growing better than others. Volunteers were split into two groups where transplanting Avicennia Marina and Sesuvium on the outer banks was done and the other group collected trash around the site. A total of 36kg of trash was collected. In the afternoon, the bank of the site had to be reinforced because erosion was occurring during very high tide, which flooded the site.
Three beach clean-ups were held and Conservation volunteers have collected over 450kg of trash on the beach of Nopparatara. Unfortunately, most of it comes from tour operators when returning from daytrips. They leave trash bags on the low tide line, which then get washed away when the tide comes in.
We have three diving days every week and we alternate between two days diving on Phi Phi Island and one day on the Krabi local islands, and one day on Phi Phi Island and two days on the local islands.
Phi Phi usually has clearer water than the local islands and there is a higher chance of seeing turtles, blacktip reef sharks and zebra sharks. The local islands are famous for their huge diversity of nudibranchs and seahorses. Stingrays are also spotted more often on the local islands.