The monsoon season is finally finished on Koh Tao, and we are gearing up for another great year of marine conservation projects here on the island. We are looking forward to getting many new students in the courses, as well as seeing some old face coming back. With all the support we have been receiving, our program is continuing to grow and evolve. Here is a preview of some of the big things to watch out for with the NHRCP in 2014:
At the end of the 2013 season, the Department of Marine and Coastal resources dropped down over two hundred and fifty 1.5m X 1.5 m concrete ‘fisheries cubes’ along with the mooring buoy project led by Aj. Sakanan Platong of the Prince of Songkla University. Now that the weather is clear, local dive schools working together through the Save Koh Tao group will begin the assembly of the cubes into the proposed artificial reef designs. Each cube weighs about 1.5-2 tons on land, so it is going to be quite a job. You can bet the NHRCP will be leading the way and putting in some long days all January to get this great project completed.
One of nature’s most amazing feats, and one of the most miraculous times to be diving is during coral reproduction. Shortly after sunset in mid-February and March the otherwise monotonous corals will suddenly begin releasing millions of eggs and sperm bundles into the water for about 15 minutes. Each year our team is there to record the event, and also to collect gametes for our coral larvae culturing program, one of the most cutting edge projects in the field of coral restoration.
The New NHRCP Certification Card Program
In 2010, we wrote the Ecological Monitoring Program that has been going on at New Heaven since 2006 into a certification program for SSI. In 2012 the program was added as a distinctive specialty for PADI, and we published the manual. But most of the activities we do on our course still do not have recognition by SSI, PADI, or any other international certification organization. So this year, we are providing a range of optional certification cards to our students to recognize them for their participation and mastership of different programs in our course. Each card cost just 500 baht, and the money received from the cards goes to support our projects and in some cases partners that we work with. For example, the Seahorse Ecology and Population Studies certification is endorsed by iSeahorse.org, and 200 baht from every card will go to support their efforts. All of the cards will also include a link to the website that displays what requirements the person has completed to receive the card.
New Accommodation Options
Most everybody loves the Tropicana Resort, but for interns it can be a bit expensive for long-stay. Luckily for them, Long time NHRCP student and volunteer, Aim, is building a new guest house called Gaia Koh Tao. She will have several rooms in a shared living arrangement. Of course all the building and design is Eco-friednly, so be sure to contact her before coming if you want to get a room for a few months.
We expect to have a good showing this year for the Save Koh Tao Festival (June 18th and 19th) and the annual Earth Day Film Festival (April 22nd). If you have been to either event in the past then you know they are the best times to be on the island. NHRCP intern, Margaux, won the film fest in 2012, and this year we plan to get the title back with Rahul helping out.
In 2013 we added Ploy Macintosh, Rahul M., and Pau Urgell to our staff team. Pau and Ploy will be back for sure, and Rahul may also be back later in the year. With the increase in students we will rely on Dave to help out part-time and may also add one more staff member. So rest assured our fun team of instructors will still be here when you arrive, and who knows, maybe Shin might even come back.
We also have a great line-up of interns coming this year, and expect to have a few new papers in our publications and student papers section.
Stay tuned for more exiting updates as we get the year going. Also stay tuned on our facebook page as we start getting back around to check on the growth over the last two months at all our previous projects