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Sairee Cottage Diving Eco Conservation on Koh Tao in Thailand

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Part of the attraction for me of the underwater world is the pure beauty of the aquatic life and coral. I started diving many years ago in Australia and have dived in many countries around the world since, and the ever increasing site of human debris in the sea has become ever more apparent in recent years.

So when our PADI Course Director Marcel van den Berg asked for the help of the DMC’s (PADI Dive Masters Candidates) for the Big Project AWARE Eco marine conservation and beach clean-up day, we all happily jumped aboard.

The day was scheduled to start at 10am in Choppers bar, a favorite of the Dive Community here on Koh Tao. As I round the corner I was pleasantly surprised to see the 40 plus people that where here to help. You can just tell this is an Island with an underlying emphasis on marine conservation, bearing in mind that this is their life as well as their livelihood.

As part of the Project Aware initiative here on Koh Tao three dive schools are leading the way, and setting examples for others to follow. Sairee Cottage Diving, Mojo Divers and Roctopus Dive headed up an amazing day that started with three eco lectures from three of the islands most enthusiastic eco warriors on Koh Tao. The first talk was given by Julia from Trash Hero, followed by Pete from Roctopus Dive and then the encore by Marcel from Sairee Cottage Diving. All the talks centered on the destruction of the undersea world from human contamination to the natural destruction of reefs that inevitably filters down to the destruction of the ozone layer from factors such as big industry all the way down to personal transportation pollution. All three of the key note speakers offered up ways in which to help protect this small island, with ideas such as carrying your own containers for food to have your take-away served in, and not forgetting carrying reusable bags and water containers.

After the lectures everyone took an hour for lunch before our rendezvous outside Roctopus headquarters for our briefings and to be divided up into groups. This day was going to see two types of clean-up, beach and reef. You could see the excitement and anticipation in people’s eyes; everyone was looking forward to a day giving back to this beautiful island. Once everybody was kitted out and ready to head over to Hin Wong Bay which was to be the destination for today’s event, we headed down to awaiting 4x4 taxis. The destination was a journey in itself! Some thought that the journey to Hin Wong Beach was like a rollercoaster ride. Up sheer mountain climbs and down the other side, all the while sitting on the back of these monster 4x4 trucks.

The beach at Hin Wong on Koh Tap is a picture of paradise, when you dream of living out your days on a tropical paradise this is the type of beach that you dream of! The beach itself is small but the rocky area around the beach is much bigger and ascends into the local mountain side. There is a small restaurant and a separate bar that overlook the beach and makes spending time at this isolated location a must do when visiting Koh Tao. The beach is on the East side of Koh Tao and the swell of the tides tends to drag any debris from the island over to this area. The owners of the small bar here have a picture on a stake standing out of the sand of the beach when it has been full of rubbish and practically no sand can be seen. All in the hope that visitors will take away any rubbish they bring with them.

The influx of eager beavers ready to tidy the beach, reef and surrounding area to this site multiplied the occupancy tenfold! The two groups instantly jumping into action, everyone went to work! The Project AWARE beach clean-up team wasted no time getting stuck into every nook and cranny in-between the rocks that climbed the side of the beach and the beautiful cascade of rocks that was the backdrop to this amazing scenery. All the while the second team lugged down all their dive equipment 100 meters down from the roadside where they were dropped off.  This in itself was no small feat! Most people would have been put off just by this, but these guys were raring to go, nothing was stopping them.  Gear donned, the reef clean up team split into two groups and off they went to work with their dive nets for rubbish!

Wow! That was my initial thought as I saw the green bags piling up outside the restaurant at a fast rate. There really was so much rubbish hiding in this paradise. The beach clean-up team were working great together with all the dive schools interacting and working together like they had been doing this every day for years. As the divers filtered out of the sea with full bags of trash of their own this really was progressing into an eco day on Koh Tao, Thailand that was worthy of the Project AWARE initiative.

As we all took stock of the mountainous pile that had formed next to the restaurant it started to dawn upon us the sheer logistics of getting this all to the recycling centre. One of the group organizers headed back to Sairee Beach to commandeer the services of five large 4x4 taxis to help get everything and everybody to their final destinations. Sairee Cottage Diving, Roctopus and Mojo Divers really did put in the hard work that day, and the enormous sense of pride and achievement at what we had all accomplished was well deserved. These guys worked as a team and made a massive impact on the landscape around Hin Wong on this month’s eco day, an impact that will be seen and felt by all that visit this beautiful bay on Koh Tao!

The day didn’t end there, oh no! As a reward for all the hard work we were all treated with free beers and a free BBQ giving to us from the management of all the Dive Centers. I had never know Eco Conservation can be this easy to organize and I want to thank Sairee Cottage Diving, Roctopus Dive, Mojo Divers and Project AWARE for making it able to have joined this day. I will now use this experience to set up my own Project AWARE Eco Conservation programs wherever I’m going to work as a PADI Divemaster or PADI Dive Instructor when I’m going to complete my IDC Dive Instructor Course on Koh Tao in Thailand.

Mike

Divemaster in Training with Sairee Cottage Diving
Koh Tao, Thailand
 

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