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Diving & Marine Conservation Volunteering in Thailand - Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update September 2008

Blacktip reef shark

September has been a rather quiet month with only up to 3 volunteers at the house. Most of the diving was for training so we did not get many surveys or reef salvage done but we continued our effort at the mangroves and with beach clean-ups. We also carried on with the preparation of International Coastal Clean-Up (ICC) for the 3rd of October.

Diving

24kg of shoes!

Volunteers that had been trained to do surveys left early this month, so we only did 4 ReefWatch survey while the 3 new arrivals have been learning how to dive and only just started training in fish and coral ID. Unfortunately, the visibility and weather conditions did not allow us to do much salvage as we could not get to sites where there was a need of a clean-up. We only removed the ususal fishing line entangled onto branching corals and a 4kg weight belt!

We still had a good list of unusual sitings including:

  • Many white nudibranchs (Glossodoris atromarginata)
  • 2 Twin magnificient nudibranchs
  • Goddefroy's cucumber
  • Blacktip reef shark
  • Commensal shrimp
  • Messmate pipefish

Mangroves

Goddefroy's sea cucumber

Our mangrove work this month consisted mostly of maintenance at the nursery which has been overgrown by invasive species a lot throughout the rainy season. We removed all the weeds around the previously planted saplings to make sure that they get enough water and light and dug up the canal further to improve water flow on the site.

For the first time, we also did some bird watching as we arrived early in the morning at the research nursery. Past experience reported by Marten and Pam, had been unsuccessful so I was not too optimistic about it but our first attempt at Thung Prasan gives me a lot of hope for the future. We observed birds from two locations for 45 minutes and saw a total of 21 birds which we were able to identify all except for 1.

Messmate pipefish

In the future, I plan to do this sort of observations twice a month and in the long term, this will be a good indicator of the success of our mangrove rehabilitation work. We should observe a greater diversity and abundance of birds as the health of the habitat gets better.

Land salvage and International Coastal Clean-Up

This month we did two beach clean-ups at Klong Muang and Ao Tung and one clean-up by longtail upstream the klong at Nopparat Thara and collected a total of 262.5kg. We probably bit our record of shoe collection this month with 24kg at Klong Muang!

Even though we collected little debris this month, we expect to make up widely for it in October as we expect between 400 and 500 volunteers, including children from 5 schools, to clean up 4 beaches!

White nudibranch

The days that we did not spent cleaning up in September were spent preparing for the event which included updating the exhibition boards (and our team of three has done a wonderful job, thank you so much!). Preparation leading up to the event with the schools also included a day spent at the Had Nopparat and Koh Phi Phi National Park head quarter when we invited 10 'ambassadors' from each school to learn about waste management. They were given presentations about the contribution of various organising bodies (National Park, Marine Police, Department of Natural Resources, Kon Tiki Dive Centre and of course Projects Abroad). Knot, then gave a presentation about marine debris and gave instructions about the big clean-up to take place on the 3rd of October.

Beach clean-up at Klong Muang

The day ended with some hands on practice of litter sorting with rubbish that we had collected previously which the kids had to sort and keep a record of. CobSea (Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia) makes use of ICC to gather as much data as possible about marine debris. The children and volunteers record very detailed information while cleaning up (i.e. number of cigarette butts, bottle lids etc.). This information will then be sent to the organisation. Finally all the children were given the opportunity to participate in a poster competition and were given sheets to record how much litter their household produces and how much of this goes to recycling.

Mangroves

Our mangrove work this month consisted mostly of maintenance at the nursery which has been overgrown by invasive species a lot throughout the rainy season. We removed all the weeds around the previously planted saplings to make sure that they get enough water and light and dug up the canal further to improve water flow on the site.

Preparing new boards for ICC

For the first time, we also did some bird watching as we arrived early in the morning at the research nursery. Past experience reported by Marten and Pam, had been unsuccessful so I was not too optimistic about it but our first attempt at Thung Prasan gives me a lot of hope for the future. We observed birds from two locations for 45 minutes and saw a total of 21 birds which we were able to identify all except for 1.

In the future, I plan to do this sort of observations twice a month and in the long term, this will be a good indicator of the success of our mangrove rehabilitation work. We should observe a greater diversity and abundance of birds as the health of the habitat gets better.

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.

Marie Goarin
5th September 2008
Director for Thailand Conservation
Projects Abroad

Management Plan, Data & Reports

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