Mooring lines are one of the most important means of saving coral reefs from anchor damage, and should be installed at every coral reef based dive site in the world. Unfortunately, the dive industry often neglects to take the steps towards installing proper mooring lines, and many dives sites around the world have been destroyed by anchors. There are many reasons that some fail to install mooring lines, but mostly it is because they don’t take responsibility for their business, or they don’t have the means to install the anchors needed to construct the mooring base. For years we have been working on ways to create artificial bases for mooring lines (rather than tying off to rocks or corals), and in 2014 we think we got it right.
Last year we worked with Ajarn Sakanan Platong (Prince of Songkla University) and Khun Isoon Tepsaskul to develop a modular mooring buoy system that would be strong enough to hold small boats, but light enough to move with just man power. After several design ideas, we settled on a unit which uses large center beams, and prefabricated concrete disks (normally used for constructing toilets).
The benefits of this system are that it uses primarily readily available parts, which means that anybody could replicate it. As it has a small footprint and is easy to build underwater, the units can be built carefully within coral reefs, which cannot be accomplished with large concrete blocks dropped from a barge or sand screws. The units can be moved with normal dive boats, and require no special training to construct.
The first two of these units were deployed around the area of Freedom Beach, on May 9th. After a few months trial, Ajarn Sakanan was able to secure funding from Chevron for 35 more of the units, and we began installations in other areas, such as Sai Nuan and Junkyard, with the help of Crystal Dive School.
So far, the units have proven to be strong and secure, and have allowed us to install proper mooring lines for speedboats and longtails in areas where they were lacking before. Over the next few months we will be deploying the rest of the units with our team, which should be quick work now that we have completed construction of our barge.
We hope that others will see this technique, and begin to replicate it in other areas where they are needed. If you need any help getting started, fell free to contact us directly.