The last several weeks we have been working on an artificial reef project that is not only one of the biggest on the island, but also one of the more fun ones we have ever built. The location of this project is in Hin Ngam, using the 1.5 m square block frames donated to the island by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in 2013. Like earlier in the year at Twins, we are using liftbags to get the 1 ton blocks buoyant, walking them into place, and stacking them up into the final design. Unlike at Twins, we have not been joined by many other dive schools for this project, possibly due to it being so busy on Koh Tao at the moment.
For the first 49 blocks, the NHRCP team worked alone to assemble the site, sometimes moving blocks over 150 meters, as the barge putting them down had drifted in the waves and wind. We spent 8 days at the site, completing 13 dives, with 8-12 divers per day. In total, we have spent over 119 diver hours at the site, using over 175 tanks (half of which were donated by the New Heaven Dive School).
Everyday of work at the site has been fun and exciting. It is so great to see the efficiency and professionalism of our team. I am incredibly impressed at what a great job the conservation team has done, some of them only learned to dive a few weeks ago, and are now moving 1 ton blocks of concrete underwater. Their determination and enthusiasm prove that we can make big differences in our actions, which carried forward in all aspects of our lives will make the world a much better place.
For the final 9 blocks, we were joined by the team from Sunshine Divers. It was great to join with them for the work, as our team felt like professionals after all the lifts they had done, and it was rewarding to share those skills with others. It is also always nicer to join with others on big projects like this, and as Dev always says “many hands make light work.”
Already many different species of fishes have moved into the site. We have seen big schools of rabbit fishes, parrot fish, wrasse, emperors, snappers, and even some big barracudas. We know that it will not take long before lots of other interesting marine life start to call this location home. We also look forward to transplanting corals from nurseries onto this site over the next few years, to speed up its development and help get the ecosystem going.
We have been enjoying all of the features of the Suan Olan site over the last several years, and spent many wonderful days deploying structures and maintaining the area. The addition of the MINI Square in 2011, the bottle nurseries from the NHRCP in 2012, and the Spirals from the DMCR in 2013 continue to improve this area, making it one of the biggest and most diverse alternative dive site/SCUBA training areas in the world.
Over the next several weeks we will begin working on the blocks that have been put down in Ao Leuk, thus completing this amazing project donated by the DMCR to the island of Koh Tao.
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