17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Conservation        +66 (0) 077 456 179

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Enter our photography competition

Love taking photos? Want to share your passion with the world? Wish you could join us on our full day trips to Chumphon Marine Park? Or do you want to know more about coral and our nursery? Then this is the competition for you!!!

We are holding a photography competition this month to celebrate the start of the New Year and all things eco! We want people from all areas of the diving industry to join in: recreational divers, instructors, divemasters, beginners, technical divers..everyone! But you don't have to be an expert in photography to enter; all you need is a camera and a love for conservation.

The theme this month is Koh Tao island. The photo can be taken underwater or on land, and the subject must portray an eco message or have an eco caption. You only need to enter one photo to have the chance of winning one of the 3 amazing prizes! And all the money raised will contribute to this years Swim4Sharks 2014 fundraiser! Read below for all the information:

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Final date for submissions: 31st March 2014

Judging Day: 4th April

 

1st Prize: Full day trip to Chumphon Marine Park

2nd Prize: Half-day coral workshop

3rd Prize: Eco tshirt & bag

 

Entry fee for 1 photo: 200 baht

Entry fee for 3 photos: 500 baht

 

Email your photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or drop them off at the Big Blue shop (Sairee Beach) on a USB stick, CD or DVD with your entry fee. Please include your name in the file name. For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note: Prizes are awarded as a voucher, valid for 6 months from the 4th April. Full day trip to CMP is availabe on scheduled dates, subject to weather conditions. Coral workshop must be scheduled in advance. Eco tshirt & bag can be redeemed from Big Blue's Drift store.

This week the interns have been investigating the artificial reefs dotted around Koh Tao island. Artificial reefs are man-made structures placed underwater to promote marine life in areas where life is lacking or near existing natural reefs to relief both natural and human pressures. Structures are usually made from concrete or metal and can act as a buoyancy aid for students or as new surfaces for coral to grow. This technique in reef conservation is called rehabilitation.

P1010567 390x269Many dive schools on the island have created or assisted in forming their own artificial reef. At Big Blue we have our very own coral nursery in Sairee Bay! It’s primary objective is to grow coral fragments and transplant them on to the existing reef or onto new structures we built on land before sinking them at the site. Many of these coral fragments we find in the sand, having broken off during rough weather or from coming into contact with diver’s fins. Some of the coral fragments have also been taken from existing healthy coral colonies – but it is important to collect fragments from many different colonies to increase biodiversity and preserve high DNA variation.

In the afternoon we headed out on one of our Big Blue boats for the first dive at Junkyard! Junkyard is an artificial reef, belonging to Crystal Dive School located near Mae Haad pier. This naturally barren area now experiences many interesting species that cannot be found anywhere else on the island! Following the route north we discovered an old truck, concrete picnic tables, collections of toilets and a miniature replica of the Sydney Bridge! Some of the fascinating species you can see there include the lionfish, juvenile Harlequin sweetlips & strapweed filefish.

TP1010612 404x264he second dive site was scheduled to be Twin Peaks, home to the infamous Buoyancy World – an artificial reef of many different structures, each created by a dive school on the island. Due to the increasing wind speed we decided to head back to the sheltered bay and work on our own reef! We scanned the sandy area near the nursery to collect fragments of coral we found suffocating in the sand, ready for tomorrow’s activities!

Rising early the next morning we ventured back out to the nursery with tools, rope and baskets in hand. The first dive was at BioRock – another artificial reef that uses an electrical current to increase the health and growth of corals. The method is so successful that it can benefit the surrounding area up to 3km away! With no dive map in hand, we searched between boulders of existing natural reef before stumbling upon the expansive dome structures. Since the project starting 4 years ago, the coral has enveloped the entire dome and many fish have inhabited the area.

P1010627 322x288The last stop was our nursery back at Sairee to attach more fragments to the new structures we built last month. After collecting all the coral from the day before, we gathered on the boat to attach them to strands of rope that would wrap around the structures. We had to work quickly as the morning sun had appeared and could cause stress for the corals. Once all 7 ropes had been created, we jumped back into the water to tie and twist the strands onto 2 metal cubes. Over the next few months the cubes will be maintained and the coral monitored. These cubes have joined the collection of other structures at our nursery: the Christmas Tree, 3 domes, 1 sleeping metal turtle and several gridded coral patches.

Next week we will be deploying 2 more large concrete cubes as an experiment to monitor whether metal or concrete is more beneficial for coral growth!

Sign up on our next BSAC Marine Conservation course to visit our coral nursery and help us monitor the corals health!

Say hello to our November interns!!

This month 3 travellers from Germany and Switzerland have joined Big Blue Conservation for the Marine Conservation internship! Inquisitive, eager and enthusiastic, they have delved into the underwater world…and even invented a hand signal for ECO! Read on to meet the team.

November interns at Chumphon Pinnacle

 

Meet Franzie – After studying for her Chemistry Masters in France, Franzie has taken the year (or was it 2?!) to travel the world. And what better way to start her journey than to jump straight into the Open Water and Advanced diving courses before starting the eco internship. Like many travellers who have discovered Koh Tao, there seems to no definite date when Franzie will leave! But there has plans in the future to start her PhD in London, researching possible materials that can be used in solar cells.

November interns doing the 'ECO'

Meet Theresa & Mikko – After arriving on the island with plans of completing their Advanced diving course, they decided to come back to join our internship programme. The couple are travelling the world on a break from the ‘real world’. Theresa works as a teacher, educating children aged 12-18 on history, German language, theatre and ethics. Mikko worked in traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture. The couple have no definite concrete plans for their future travels, but Mikko has hinted at setting up a shop on the island…..we may have 2 new residents!

 

Monthly beach & underwater clean-up at Big Blue

P1070258 370x250All our eco warriors assembled for yesterdays beach and underwater clean-up along North Sairee and Sairee Bay. The day started at 10am with a clean-up on the beach between our two Big Blue Diving resorts. Customers, divemasters trainees, eco interns and locals gathered outside our resort for a quick briefing about what to pick up..and then we set off down the beach! November is notorious for strong winds, high waves and continuous rain (hello monsoon season!), so evidently there was little beach to walk along with the high tides. But everyone was determined to make it a worthwhile trip: with rubbish bags in hand and gloves for protection (you never know what you might find!), we trooped through the sand and grasses to collect any rubbish we could spot.

P1070263 370x250The day proceeded with a trip out on one of our dive boats, Banzai, for the underwater clean-up. As the clock ticked closer to the departure time of 12:45, divemaster trainees helped pack all the dive equipment for the trip and customers started to crowd around the dive shop in anticipation for the afternoon’s dives. As everyone boarded the boat, we began to set up our dive gear for the first dive at White Rock. Every underwater clean-up consists of a fun dive followed by the free (yes, it’s free!) clean-up. For those that wanted to only participate in the second dive, there was ample space on the boat’s roof to tan and relax as the waves lapped up against the hull. Jumping into the refreshing water, we descended into the underwater world of White Rock. Reaching a maximum depth of 22m, it is the most diverse divesite on Koh tao, home to many species of coral, invertebrates and fish!

After a lengthy dive of 52 minutes, everyone huddled together on the top deck for another briefing about the impending clean-up dive. November has been packed with events, not just on Koh Tao but worldwide; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the monsson weather covering South East Asia. Over the weeks we have experienced an abundance of waste washing up over the island’s divesites and shore. To take shelter from the unfavourable weather, many fishing boats moor up in Sairee Bay, hidden from the Eastern currents. But so much traffic in the bay means a lot of rubbish is dropped into the water and left discarded on the reef floor.

AP1070329 370x250ll 39 divers listened attentively as we discussed methods for collecting rubbish underwater and the safety procedures to follow. With mesh bags attached to the dive leaders equipment, dive groups jumped into the water in search of plastic bags, cans, bottles and batteries. The poor visibility meant dive groups had to stick close together as not to lose one another, but also keep close to the reef to identify marine life from rubbish. As dive groups journeyed through the bay, they passed the coral nursery and artificial reefs structures, vast beds of foliose coral, enormous boulder corals, schools of batfish, families of saddleback anemone fish, feeding parrotfish…..the list goes on! After 45 minutes groups emerged from the depths holding mesh bags filled with all sorts of rubbish: batteries, metals rods, cloth, plastic piping, dive equipment, plastic wrappers, and even a broom! Enjoyment and satisfaction encompassed every diver as they climbed back onto the boat to share their findings.

The day ended as we gathered in front of the dive school for a group photo of all 39 divers (Holy smokes, 39 people!). Hands in the air, whooping with joy, we smiled for cameraman Wayne who filmed the entire event. A well-earned beer was only moments away at the Big Blue Bar. Logging the afternoon’s dives in logbooks, we all sat in the restaurant to watch the sun set behind Sairee Bay (sparkling with cleanliness!).