We seem to be answering a lot of questions in our Emails about dive site closures, not here on Koh Tao, but on the other coast and near the Burmese border. The closures are due to the severe Bleaching Event which occurred in April and May of last year. Our region was hit hard, with up to 78% bleaching of corals but has recovered very very well.
This Bleaching Event has caused a few closures and of course with the help of the "trusty" media it seems that all of Thailand is closed for diving. Well here’s my distorted view (cause I’m right here on my little island). Divers can be a threat to the reef, but only if they are learning, have poor abilities, like buoyancy control, or do not use eco-friendly diving practices. We can’t discount the amount of damage that is done by boat traffic and improper disposal of waste on marine vehicles which in any case can be linked directly to the diving community. However, what role do these things play in bleaching the reefs??? At what stage does a diver contribute to the overall warming of the oceans??? So divers are not a real cause of the bleaching and true enough if we keep the divers away from the reefs most affected as they recover, it will help them recover faster… (Maybe, ours are doing quite well and look great!) But why not point the finger to the real problem.
As we were told not to dive on certain sites (18 sites on the Andaman Coast of Thailand have been closed, (a very small percentage of reef area in MPA) and within weeks of these closures the Thai government holds meetings in Bangkok to allow Salamander Energies to begin a new oil drilling operation just 55km from Koh Tao's reefs. If you happened to see the news last year about the environmental impacts of drilling in the gulf of Mexico you might want to think about the Gulf of Thailand next. It is favourable to note that in these meetings held in Bangkok, Koh Tao’s Environmental Group “Save Koh Tao” was favorably mentioned and acknowledged for their activities.
So what is Ban's Diving Resort doing? And what is the rest of Koh Tao doing? This year we are getting involved in projects headed up by the 'Save Koh Tao' Group such as monitoring our waters, implementing restoration techniques, conducting visitor surveys, continuing with turtle and whale shark databases, conducting water quality tests around the island, conducting underwater, reef and beach clean ups, creating artificial reefs like biorock, monitoring, maintaining and installing mooring buoys, creating, monitoring and expanding giant clam nusery programs as well as coral nurseries, tree and grass planting for control erosion issues on the island.. and on and on.
So to recap, seasoned divers in coastal areas of the world are probably the most informed people in reef management and reef conservation. Not many divers would be diving if there was nothing to see. Take a look and ask questions of the real reasons and concerns affecting our reefs these days and how you can help. And in closing, keep your eyes peeled for PADI’s changes to their Project AWARE Program coming very very soon! (teaser ;) I know). AND IF YOU'RE ANYWHERE AROUND KOH TAO MARC H 25th-26th DON’T MISS OUR SAVE KOH TAO UNDER WATER FESTIVAL! Will cover happenings in future blog.
other articles to check out....