On Saturday 24th August 2013, we attended a Reef Guardian presentation hosted by SAMPAN. In attendance was Sakan Plathony, a scientist based at the Prince of Songkla University, who was there to talk to us about his experiences with artificial reefs and to offer advice about setting one up around Koh Lanta.
Our first task was to think about the objectives of artificial reefs. A variety of reasons were suggested, but we felt the most important ones for us were to take the pressure off our existing natural reefs, to provide education and scientific opportunities, and to supply a new habitat for corals and fish.
We were surprised to learn that there are already a huge number of artificial reefs in Thailand, and that most of these were developed to increase the fish stocks so that fisherman can continue to work. There are some artificial reefs that have been developed solely with the purpose of scuba diving in mind, with very good examples in Phi Phi and Koh Tao.
Reefs can take many forms, including old tyres, shells, rocks, cars, steel hulled vessels and old military hardware. The majority of artificial reefs that have been constructed in Thailand have been structures made of concrete cubes.
There are many considerations for us to think about – location, current use of site, materials, purpose, reef design and funding. The dive centres of Koh Lanta will work together to come up the best solution that will give us a new and exciting dive site and provide a nursery for corals. We will keep you informed of our progress.