Conservation and Environment in Thailand: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Thailand – Monthly Update December 2013 – January 2014
December and January saw Projects Abroad kick start our Global Shark Campaign. Volunteers had the opportunity to visit two schools and present the students with education presentations, as well as organising some fun shark related activities.
The weather during these two months has been absolutely beautiful especially for our divers, great visibility as well as cool and clear air. We did have a couple of weeks where volunteers actually mentioned that they were a little cold, very rare in Thailand!
Projects Abroad also celebrated Christmas dinner in December and the volunteers were happy to step into 2014 here in Thailand. Most were on the beach at midnight appreciating the fireworks.
The Conservation Management Plan was also completed and ready to kick in at the beginning of 2014. All the staff feels really excited about 2014 and look forward to bringing you some more great news and achievements, not to mention some great photos.
Green Fins Survey and Grouper Study
A total of 52 Reef Watch surveys were conducted by our volunteers during the month of December and January with a total area of 91235.605m2 analysed.
Most of the islands are been surveyed in two different depths, shallow and deep survey in order to analyse possible differences between them. The different directions have also been analysed, this is to provide us with data not just based on depth but also to understand the abundance species of marine life all the way around the coral reef.
Artificial Reef Survey
A new project in cooperation with the local government is been implemented in order to study 3 artificial reefs. The studies have not been concluded as of yet, we will be visiting each site 4 times a year, so far we have noticed that the location of these artificial reefs are the best options for artificial reefs due to the high sedimentation, the poor visibility conditions and the material construction of the Artificial Reef. Otherwise we should remark that taking notes of no life is also important for the scientific purpose. The experience for the volunteers was very exciting, following a roper underwater to find the structures and practicing a kind of “technical diving”.
Dive Against Debris and Beach Clean Up Surveys
For the month of December and January our volunteers cleaned up underwater debris in an area of over 94163.26 square meters involving 107 volunteers and 784 minutes. This resulted in just over 69.3kg of loose debris. Like the previous month, most of the debris consisted of fishing nets.
On the mainland the most popular beaches were cleaned in an area of 87000 square meters and collecting 777kg of garbage involving 154 volunteers and 1080 minutes. The conversation with the Thailand population and the tourist who liked the project was very interesting and empowers them to make the beaches cleaned.
Projects Abroad has started to cooperate with an important scientific and citizens group who are running an interesting project of sea watchers (www.seawatchers.org) that involves the general population to make observations on nature.
Sightings of endangered species
Every survey the research divers’ conduct is complemented with the sightings of endangered species like dolphins, turtles and sharks. In these 2 months Projects Abroad Thailand started working together with E-Sharks Thailand and continued working with Phuket Marine Biological Centre in relation the studies of the endangered species. Projects Abroad also started the Global Shark Campaign, aimed at raising awareness and providing research and data to contribute to the conservancy of all shark species involving 18 countries across 4 continents.
For the month of December and January our volunteers conducted 64 surveys with an area analysed of 185398.9 meters square having checked 2 hawksbill turtles.
Turtle Rehabilitation Work
In December and January we visited the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in PMBC. Over there our volunteers were split into two groups, some were introduced to some tanks that needed to be cleaned. While some went and worked in the larger tanks where the Olive Ridley turtles lived. Volunteers helped scrub the tanks and also the turtle shells.
After the work in the area we took our volunteers through to the Aquarium where they had the opportunity to view the all the marine life that were on display.
On Friday 13 December 2013, we had our Outreach activity at Nong Thale School where we held an educational workshop presenting our Global Shark Campaign. We organised games and activities that we felt encouraged the children to be more interested in shark conservation. Normally children are drawn to sharks as they are mysterious and known as wild and dangerous whilst in reality they are more afraid of humans than we are from them. It was a great opportunity for us to take effective action by raising awareness and educating children so they realise the importance of saving the shark population.
The community volunteers put together a skit about Sheldon the shark, the children seemed to enjoy this very much. The Conservation volunteers also did a presentation about the mangroves and explained the importance of mangroves to the children.
There were also other game stations set up to entertain and educate the children. We had puzzle station, word search, diving station and also an arts and crafts station. All of which focused on sharks. It was a great day and our volunteers as well as the school children seem to have a very good time.
As for January, we did our second campaign Global Shark Campaign. We are so proud that we have increased the number of our audiences from 120 to 700 students from the past month. We really hope that we have successfully created the good understanding that children have about sharks and that they will help us protect sharks in their local oceans.
The day began with our volunteers playing “Sheldon the Misunderstood Shark”, then we set up 8 game stations that all 700 students rotated to play at each station. We told them facts about sharks and we also asked them questions and in the end if they answered it correctly we gave prizes.
Children have learnt about how important it is to have sharks in the ocean and how they maintain a perfect balance. Without sharks, our ocean will have no predator and our beautiful beach will turn into a massive space full of jellyfish. This doesn’t mean that jellyfish are bad, but an ocean full of jelly fish doesn’t make life easy for other fish. At the end of the day, the children have learnt a lot and they have built a strong and positive relationship with Projects Abroad volunteers that they came and asked our volunteers not to leave. It was such a productive day, entertaining as well, and of course educating to the children.
Conservation Project Manager, Thailand