This year, our island community has been very grateful to receive 45 new mooring line bases to help protect the reefs from anchor damage and facilitate easier access to some of the island’s dive sites. The project has been organized by Ajarn Sakanan Platong of the Prince of Songkla University and initiated by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The funding for the 8 ton concrete bases was donated by Chevron, PTTEP, and Salamander Energies. Although the project has been carried out largely by the Save Koh Tao Group, the NHRCP has been the leading group of volunteers on the project every step of the way, including the 1 year of location and logistical planning.
On august 21st we joined with Crystal dive school to make 60 small concrete bases which would be tied with floats and then used to mark the locations for the larger, 12 tons mooring bases to be brought in October. Then, in mid-September our team spent one very long day going around the island to mark many of the locations with small yellow buoys and the concrete blocks we had made.
When the barge arrived in late September with the 45 concrete bases and also 160, 1.5 ton artificial reef cubes, the NHRCP team led the deployment for 5 days. From sun up to sun down our dedicated team persevered through storms and waves to locate sites, help lower structures into the water, free dive or SCUBA dive to detach winch hooks, and attach floating buoys to the bases. Our team was instrumental to this stage of the project, and truly demonstrated to the government groups that local people, foreign volunteers, and other stakeholders are the key to successful projects aimed at managing reef resources.
The 45 new mooring line bases have been but into what are deemed to be ‘areas of urgent need’ based on planning and studies we have been doing over the last year. The locations are spread out around the island, and all the new buoys are available for anybody to use, including fishing vessels.
You can see some of the footage from that project that put into a video series made by NHRCP assistant Instructor Rahul M.
Throughout October, our team as worked alongside Crystal Dive School and Ban’s Diving to install the 45 mooring lines and balls to the concrete bases. By the middle of the month, 41 out of the 45 bases had been completed with mooring lines and marker buoys, providing much needing locations for boats to safely park during the monsoon season, without having to drop anchors.
In the next few weeks we will begin to construct the artificial reefs out of the blocks modules that have been deployed, alongside with other dive schools on the island. We are looking forward to this exciting work, and invite you to join us!