Matt Bolton, PADI Course Director at Crystal Dive Resort in Thailand, reports on their latest conservation efforts with Eco Koh Tao and the team from Ocean Mysteries.
Crystal Dive Resort, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive Resort in Koh Tao and its partner conservation team, Eco Koh Tao have been at the forefront of marine conservation projects on Koh Tao for many years. Conducting Reef Check Ecological Surveys, developing artificial reefs and coral nurseries and fixing mooring buoys are just some of the integral conservation projects where our Eco team have been leaders.
When we were contacted in late 2014 by the team from Ocean Mysteries crew, we were delighted to be involved in showcasing some of our work. Two of our major projects at the moment involve active restoration of the near shore coral reefs; one involved growing and propagating corals and the other giant clams.
On March 11 the team from Ocean Mysteries, hosted by Jeff Corwin travelled from Koh Samui for a day in the water around Koh Tao. Jeffrey Corwin is an American nature conservationist and host and executive producer of the Animal Planet cable channel television programs The Jeff Corwin Experience and Corwin’s Quest. Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin airs on the ABC network in the USA.
The first stop was at Twins where host Jeff and Eco Koh Tao’s Conservation Coordinator Nathan Cook and Kailash Cook took to the waters to collect some coral fragments. These were brought back to the boat and placed on coral nursery trays before being returned to the nursery to grow. This important reef restoration process helps to regenerate and restore compromised corals on some our near shore reefs which are subject to increased stresses from local and international pressures.
After lunch on board, our second stop was at our local in-house artificial reef, Junkyard where another important reef restoration process is underway, this time with giant clams. Giant Clams are an iconic reef species under pressure throughout the tropics as people remove them for food and souvenirs. For the last 2 years Eco Koh Tao has been looking after a batch of some 450 giant clams in protective cages underwater until they are big enough to survive on their own.
As part of this process, once the clams are big enough they are transplanted from their nursery cage out onto the natural reef. So far we have transplanted over 150 giant clams with a success rate above 80%. This is far better than previous efforts where success was virtually zero. These clams will provide important water filtration services helping to maintain and improve the water quality around Koh Tao.
It was a great day out and provided Eco Koh Tao and Crystal Dive a unique opportunity to showcase our amazing coral reef conservation work to the world. We are especially thankful to Jeff Corwin and his team for making the effort to come to Koh Tao and get involved in our conservation projects first hand.
Setting up the coral nursery. Photo by Alex Tyrrell