Last week we went out to maintain the ‘No-Boat’ Zoning line that runs around the shallow reef area at a site called Hin Ngam. The lines where developed through a partnership with Save Koh Tao Community Group and the Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, and installed by local dive schools. This line had been maintained and repaired 6 months ago through a joint effort by New Heaven and Crystal/Eco Koh Tao.
When we got there we were astonished to find that an 80 meter stretch of the line was covered in nets, bags, ropes, and all sorts of other marine debris which had piled up during the monsoon season. The rubbish was at time running from the surface to about 6 meters underwater, and was way more work then we bargained for.
So yesterday we returned with a bigger group, scissors, and our Project AWARE clean-up bags (and possible a bit naively only 4 baskets to put all the rubbish in). With about 10 people we worked hard to over 5 hours to cut the existing line, swim the rubbish to the boat, get it on the boat (the hardest part of the day), and then back to land to sort and bag it (keeping any useable rope and recycling the foam and plastic buoys).
We literally filled our boat with a 2 meter square pile, and had to take 2 longtail boat trips to get it all ashore. Luckily, on shore we were met by other staff members, divers, and customers at the New Heaven dive school. We made quick work of the bagging, and then enjoyed some delicious free ice cream donated from the shop over the road. After that everybody pretty much passed out from exhaustion.
This will surely be a clean-up that we remember and will be talking about well into the future. Not only was it a personal, and dive school record, but we think it may be an island record as well. Thanks to all the divers who helped, the New Heaven Dive School, the poor boat captain who watched his vessel filled with rubbish, and of course PADI and Project AWARE for always supporting our clean-up efforts.