After months of planning, campaigning & preparation, Blue Guru's Ocean Action Project got underway last weekend.
Surin & Similans National Parks officially open 1 Nov - 30 Apr each year and throughout this period Blue Guru will be monitoring all sightings of sharks, rays & fishing boats on every dive & snorkel session we lead at Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock & Koh Tachai.
Our 1st trip of the season was a 2 night private snorkeling tour at Surin Islands. With 7 snorkeling sessions over 3 days, there was plenty of opportunity to survey a wide variety of Surin Islands sites.
Great news - black tip reefs sharks were sighted at both Torinla & Pad Kaad, 2 sites we regularly visit on day trips & 2 day dive safaris.
Not so good news - 4 fishing boats were seen in National Park waters. Despite 3km no-fishing zones around each island, fishing boats can enter these zones to take cover. They are also legally allowed to fish between Surin Islands & Richelieu Rock (both within Surin National Park) because they are 14km apart, so there's 8km of unprotected sea. Moreover, it is commonly believed that a lot of illegal fishing still goes on in no-fishing zones, especially at night (when it's more difficult to police) & over low season (when there are no dive operators in the vicinity to complain).
Blue Guru is also surveying our customers as part of its Ocean Action Project. Questions will identify what attracts divers & snorkelers to Surin & Similans National Parks; whether they will recommend others to visit based on diversity of marine life seen; and their views about whether changes to no-fishing zones are required.
SAMPAN (Strengthening Andaman Marine Park Area Network) have also collaboratively agreed to support our project. Blue Guru & other eco-orientated operators in the area are Reef Guardians for specific sites in Surin & Similans National Parks. Reef Guardian monthly surveys record any sightings of sharks, rays & fishing boats (as well as a wide selection of other marine species indicative of coral health). SAMPAN will share all Reef Guardian survey data with Blue Guru to increase the scope, significance & influence of our findings.
To stay informed on the progress, findings & outcome of Blue Guru's Ocean Action Project, become Blue Guru's "My Ocean" buddy and like our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/blueguru.org