Waiting at the pier for some friends to arrive on Koh Tao last week, I noticed an overwhelming amount of garbage under and around the beach where most visitors arrive and depart from our little island. It doesn’t seem right that the first thing they experience is the filth of the main pier so we decided to start our monthly clean up there.
Crystal Dive & Eco Koh Tao’s beach efforts were short but productive. In less than an hour we’d filled some 15 50-litre basket of garbage from plastic and glass bottles to foam boxes and a few random items including a kettle and a discarded life jacket. It was a pretty amazing haul in a short space of time.
In the afternoon our underwater efforts we were supposed to be put to task in nearby Sairee beach but the weather dictated terms and we once again headed to the east coast for our underwater action. Crystal Dive & Eco Koh Tao joined Marine Conservation Koh Tao by tackling the sheltered Ao leuk Bay where most dive schools had retreated to. 22 people on the boat ensured it was another productive effort with surprisingly, and happily, very little collected. The main culprit was fishing nets and wire tangled around colonies of branching coral.
Divers were provided clean up bags care of the Project AWARE. Some participants also used their dive once again to collect invaluable data on coral bleaching using the University of Queensland and Project AWARE’s Coralwatch Coral Health Chart monitoring. This data is collected during the dive and uploaded to Coralwatch’s online database.
When we do our clean ups the aim is to try and educate people into the plight of the marine ecosystems from garbage and discarded waste and what role we can have in reducing its frequency. People are instructed to only bring up things that are damaging the environment and things that will continue to damage. We try to remind people that it is better to try to REDUCE consumption of things like plastic bags & bottles rather than rely on them being recycled.
Glass bottles provide habitat and substrate and if removed simply add to our already overfilled landfill. Fishing nets, once secure and fixed to the bottom are usually a good substrate for other organisms to grow on.
It was encouraging to see our educational campaign continuing to pay off with none of our ‘non-target’ garbage being brought up.
Marine Conservation Koh Tao www.marineconservationkohtao.com
Crystal Dive www.crystaldive.com
Project AWARE www.projectaware.org
Save Koh Tao www.savekohtao.com