On the 27th October 2015, Roman Peter from Trash Hero visited Koh Lanta to talk about the work of the organisation. He carried out a very informative presentation about the charity, which was started on Koh Lipe in 2013. It started out as a small community project with local dive professionals getting together to clean the beach. From there, it grew into something much bigger. They now have 10 chapters throughout Thailand and are looking to expand all the time.
They started an innovative project where local businesses offer stainless steel water bottles for sale. Each business that sells the bottles provides a free water refill service, meaning that anyone who invests in a bottle can easily fill up no matter where they bought it.
The bottle is a great reminder of your trip to Koh Lanta and a really effective way to make a genuine difference.
We are very lucky at our dive centre to back onto a river that runs between Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi. We offer dives from our pier in this river and over the last few years, have noticed that we seem to have a population of seahorses. After a few years of talking and planning, we have finally started a program to monitor these fascinating creatures.
So, why is it important to monitor seahorses? According to Project Seahorse:
Seahorses are a flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues. Many seahorse species are listed as threatened on the World Conservation Union’s IUCN Red List.
They inhabit a wide range of marine environments, including seagrasses, mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and seaweeds. Declines in their population signify wider problems can could effect a wide range of other species.
We are using a tool devised by Project Seahorse called iSeahorse, which allows for the logging and identification of individuals. If there is any uncertainty about the exact species, this can be recorded as ‘unknown’ and scientists from the project will assist with identification.
We will provide updates on population numbers and species identified over the next few weeks.
Thanks to Marcelo Ogata for the photograph www.bugdreamer.com
On our dive trips, we expect to see sharks at Koh Bida, but in recent years, we haven’t seen many at Koh Haa. This season, we have been lucky to have a number of sightings of leopard sharks at Koh Haa.
As some of you may know, we are working with the Spot the Leopard Shark project, which is a monitoring program being run by Dr Christine Dudgeon from the University of Queensland, Australia.
Recently, we had an amazing encounter with an adult male who was around 2 metres in length. One of our divers,
It is important to discover the sex of the shark. If you look between the pectoral fin and the tail, and see a clasper, you can identify the shark as a male. The absence of a clasper would indicate a female shark.
We will continue to submit photos and hope that we will find a new shark to add to the database.
For the last four weeks, we have been amazingly lucky to see a whale shark around the dive sites at Koh Haa. This male juvenile measures around 3.5 metres and is very playful. He seems to love bubbles and has been spending a lot of time near the surface, meaning snorkelers and divers have had some great opportunities to spend time with him.
The fish that you can see near the whale sharks are called remoras. These are also called suckerfish as they attach themselves to sharks and rays with suction and get transport and protection from the host species, as well as feeding on leftovers.
Whale sharks are filter feeders, using their huge mouths to suck up vast quantities of plankton, rather like a vacuum cleaner. A feeding shark sucks in huge quantities of water, and then expels the water through it’s gills, keeping the plankton.
It has been awe inspiring to watch this magnificent creatures. Let’s hope he stays around for a while longer!
During the low season, we attended a training session run by SAMPAN (Strengthening Andaman Marine Protected Areas Network Programme) and Green Fins. During this session, it was agreed that each dive centre on Koh Lanta would be responsible for an area of reef within the Koh Lanta National Park. There will be monthly surveys of invertebrates, and at the beginning and end of the season, there will be a full survey of the coral.
On Saturday 9th November 2013, Hidden Depths Diving conducted their first survey of our area of reef, located around Koh Haa 2 and into the lagoon. Instructor Gary Eldridge, Divemaster trainee Jack Willans and Assistant Base Manager at GVI Phang Nga Laura Mulvey conducted the survey.
Gary said “I have dived this site hundreds of times over the last few years, but conducting this survey made me look at the reef in a whole new light”
Using the very handy waterproof booklet supplied by Green Fins Thailand, the guys were able to check both the coral and the marine life in the area. All of those who participated in survey concluded that the reef is in very good health, with a wide variety of reef life and lots of healthy hard corals.