Conservation and Environment in Thailand: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update September 2012
Diving Based Projects:
Overall this month, we had quite a bit of bad weather. There was a lot of rain, high winds, and large waves. Because of this, we spent most of the month diving locally. The volunteers did a great job collecting a lot of debris. We had some sites where 10- 15 kilos were brought up on one single dive. For a few days when the weather cleared up, we were able to get out to Phi Phi and dive Maya Bay, where we saw 10 sharks, and Viking & Philey wall which had a variety of species that the volunteers learned about. The volunteers also worked together to average their Reef Survey information and learned how to enter the data on the various Project's Abroad sites.
Reef Check Survey
During our reef check survey this month we did spot some interesting and exciting species, a total of 11 black tip sharks were spotted this month, and 10 of them were in one sitting. Other rather rare sightings consisted of a baby stingray, a green turtle and also a stick pipe fish. The volunteers were extremely excited about the 10 black tips in one dive.
Species that was spotted most of was bicolor parrotfish, cleaner wrasse, sea whip, moorish idol and brain corals.
Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris Survey
During September we had 12 different dives for debris. What we noticed this month was that the most amount of debris that was picked up were usually bottles. More plastic bottles were salvaged but also a significant amount of glass bottles. We feel that the reason behind this is that in September the storm systems wash much more debris in to our water ways.
The most interesting item salvaged has to be a fishing trap, even though there wasn’t any marine life caught inside at the time, in the future it would have definitely caused problems for our eco system. It was nice of the volunteers to spot this and remove it.
Endangered Species Work
It is sad to report that the only endangered species that we had to report to the Phuket Marine Biology Center (PMBC) was the one green sea turtle, because of the bad weather it is extremely difficult to spot these animals when they breech the surface for air. We also noticed there were many turtles that had been rescued by PMBC due to the bad weather entangling the turtles.
Land Based Projects:
September has been a good month for our reforestation project, this month we spent a lot of our time working with FORRU in their tree nursery. Learning how to pot seeds and germinate them was one of our biggest jobs this month. We also did plenty of weeding, and clearing debris out of the tree nurseries, basically general tree nursery care. This is great practice for our volunteers whom also have their own tree nursery to attend to at our accommodation.
On one of the days, due to heavy rain, instead of being in the tree nursery we had a chance to visit some of the children in the kindergarten in the local area, the volunteers drew pictures of animals for the kids and taught them how to say what they are in English. The children and the volunteers all had a great time. We also have started preparing the walls of the kindergarten to paint some nature inspired murals for the kids.
On the last reforestation day of September, the volunteers were invited by the local government to help plant trees at the Emerald pool area, this was not only great publicity for our cause but the volunteers were also invited to the hot springs for a dip after.
Beach Clean Ups
In September we had two beach cleans, one of our beach cleans was here on our own back yard. Ao Nammao, the other clean up session took place in Nopharathara beach, volunteers managed to pick up a total of almost 265kg, which is not bad at all for two beach cleans. The most unusual items picked up was an ID card, an umbrella, and part of a ripped tent.
20kg of the trash picked up was recyclable the rest was all general rubbish.
Turtle Rehabilitation Work
Due to lots of storm systems in the area, we heard that PMBC had many turtles that were injured due to ghost nets and other marine debris. So when we arrived, the volunteers were put straight into work, staring with cleaning the tanks. After the tanks were nice and clean they were asked to assist the vets with applying medicine to the many injured turtles.
When all the work was done, we went to the marine mammal rehabilitation pool where unfortunately there was a dolphin that was being cared for as it had beached on the other side of Phuket Island. The PMBC staff asked if any volunteers wanted to stay the night by the pool and care for the dolphin for the night shift. We had two volunteers who jumped the chance to PMBC’s delight. The dolphin is stabilising but still being monitored. We will send all of our positive energy to that dolphin.
Community Outreach Day
On our community outreach day we went to Thup Prik where the volunteers learned how to build eco mud houses, also known as adobes. The project that we partnered up with is called “Num Thang” which means “lead the way”. They are all about sustainability, form self sufficient crop planting to harvesting solar energy.
On the day we learned how to build mud bricks, which we then learned how to layer them using nothing but a mixture of earth and water as glue. The volunteers also mixed bio mud pain that was used to finish the walls once the bricks were layered. As hard working as the volunteers were, it all ended with a fun mud fight. The area we worked in also had a little pond that the volunteers could wash off and have a swim after.
The social activities that took place in September were, sea kayaking and Tiger temple/Huay Toh waterfall visit.
We started kayaking from Ao Nang, and visited many beaches along the way. We ended up on Phranang Cave beach where the volunteers went trekking into a cave system and ended up on a small opening at the side of the cliff. The view was perfect as the weather was great.
Tiger temple was also a great success; firstly the volunteers get a blessing from the monks and observe the actual caved temple area. After that they head up the 1200 plus steps to the top of the temple, as tiring as it is they always seem thrilled when they get to the top. We then made our way to Huay Toh waterfall where the volunteers had lunch and went for a swim in the falls.
Conservation Project Manager, Thailand