Aaand I’m are back in the tropics!
This month has brought the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I have started work at the very same organisation that Akua Oceanwear is donating to- New Heaven Reef Conservation program (NHRCP). After visiting this wonderful program a couple of times over the past two years, I am incredibly excited to see what my time here will teach me, but more importantly; what I can contribute to the program.
New Heaven is located on the Gulf of Thailand on a little island called Koh Tao (which translates to Turtle Island in Thai). It is approximately 19km² in size. It is heavily visited tourist island, boasting SCUBA diving as its main attraction. In fact, Koh Tao certifies the second highest amount divers in the world, only falling behind Cairns in Queensland, Australia. Whilst the tourism provides a valuable source of income to the island, it brings with it many problems which are also associated with many other heavily visited tourist destinations in Asia.
Some of the key problems which have arisen are:
- Waste management, especially in regards to plastics
- Development on the island, which leads to sedimentation problems (essentially, all the dust, dirt, mud and other waste made from building on the land eventually washes into the water and onto the coral reef, drowning it.
- Nutrient rich waters- coral reefs prefer a low nutrient environment (again, this is a runoff issue from the island)
- Inexperienced divers being unintentionally destructive in the water
- Boats dropping anchor on the reef- mooring lines are very important in the tropics
- Coral bleaching, as a result of climate change and warming ocean waters
NHRCP takes on interns and students from around the world and educates them on reef conservation techniques. SCUBA diving is used as a tool to help implement many conservation techniques taught. Some of the activities carried out regularly by the program include, but are not limited to:
- A regular survey called an ecological monitoring program, which regularly takes data on fish, invertebrates, substrate, coral disease and many more things
- Mooring line maintenance
- Artificial reef implementation and maintenance
- Giant clam nurseries (giant clams are essential animals on our reefs, and they are filter feeding organisms which help ‘clean’ the water)
- Sea turtle head start program
- Increasing coral genetic diversity by incubating coral gametes during coral spawning periods
- Underwater clean ups
- And many more
These only just break the surface on what goes on over here. Over the next few months I will go into more detail which what goes down at this wonderful program, and maybe I’ll even see some of you conservation girls in the future!
I am incredibly excited to talk more about it and see what there is to be learned. I am also incredibly excited to settle into this beautiful island life <3
Until next month!
Akua Oceanwear Founder Zoe Strapp " Speaking from personal experience, New Heaven Conservation is a stunning, kind and passionate place to visit and explore your love for the marine world and certainly one for the bucket list! As an un-experienced, gitty little university student, the beautiful team at New Heaven invited me into their home, both above and below the water. We are honored to be supporting this great organisation and whether you are scientists, diver, snorkeler, beach lover or just addicted to travel. I highly urge you to pay New Heaven a visit! You will fall in love with the million of nudibranchs, clear waters, team members like Elle & Spencer, or maybe just the food 🙂
Happy Sustainable Travels xxx
ALL UNDERWATER SHOTS HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY @ellehaskin