Le lundi 24 octobre 2011 nous sommes partis plonger a Maya Nui, lors du briefing Linnea nous à conseillé de garder les yeux grand ouvert car nous auront peut être la chance de rencontrer des requins.
Lors de la descente je ne m'attendais à vrai dire pas vraiment à en voir et la surprise fut de taille. Je plongeais devant, au côté de Linnea, au bout d'à peine 10 minutes un premier requin, un black tip, fit une apparition. Ce moment restera à jamais gravé dans ma mémoire, il était vraiment magnifique et tout notre groupe était tellement époustouflée que j'ai eu l'impression qu'il n'y avait plus aucun bruit et aucun mouvement sous l'eau. On l'a tous regardé avec de grand yeux passer devant nous et faire son chemin tranquillement.
Lors de cette plongée nous étions séparé en deux groupes, une partie faisait une plongée "dive against debris" et l'autre s'occupait du Reef Check Survey. Nous avons continué notre plongée et très peu de temps plus tard nous avons recroisé pleins de requins. C'était époustouflant ! Certains sont passer à un mètre de nous !
Durant ces magnifiques rencontres le temps c'est arrêté, nous étions tous focaliser à les observer que nous avons même oubliée de faire le travail pour lequel nous étions là à la base.
Ce fut une de mes plus belle plongée et je ne l'oublierais jamais. Je tiens a remercier énormément tous ceux qui nous offre l'opportunité d'aller sur ces sites exceptionnels et de plonger à côté de ces animaux incroyable, tels que les requins et tant d'autres.
Fiona O'Cearbhaill - 21 ans - Suisse
The 27th, 28th and 29th of September 2011 we have had huge dives against debris days. We were really surprised to find a lot of different kinds of stuff underwater. The most debries we found were glass bottles, fishing lines, fishing nets, scuba gear and a huge amount of-masks (39 in only one dive!) . We also discovered 3 pairs of sunglasses and a fish trap, we have also saved 2 fish imprisoned inside it! The amount of debris found per dive was between 6 and 30 kg!
This collection makes sense because we put online all the information: www.projectaware.org. The purpose of this international database is to make a report from all the data receive around the world and contact the media, the local government to change the mentality and give a sense of responsibility the locals and the tourists.
Thanks Linnéa for this good initiative.
And we hope to find a clean ocean floor as soon as possible.
On October 14th, 2011, my friends, who are other volunteers living in Krabi with me, and I went to Ao Nang for the weekend, a usual three day trip we take. On Saturday the 15th of October, I had misplaced my bag when we were all out at a restaurant, and when I found it, my wallet was no longer in the bag. Being in a foreign country has obvious difficulties such as a language barrier, distance from home, and not fully knowing one's way around. All of these aspects flew through my mind as soon as I realized my wallet with my money, license, and credit cards, was gone. I would have to cancel the cards and get new cards, which would all take weeks. Unfortunately, my project in Thailand ended in less than a week, and then I would be off to Nepal for another project.
Overwhelmed with panic, I thought that my situation was helpless. A couple of days later, after I took proper precautions with protecting my credit card accounts, I received a phone call from one of the Project Abroad Staff, saying that the Ao Nang police had my wallet. Someone had found it, and kindly brought it to the police station. The only reason that the police were able to contact me is because of the Projects Abroad Emergency card that I had put in my wallet on induction day. I am so thankful for the police, the Projects Abroad Staff, and the anonymous person that returned my wallet. All of these people have made it possible for me to continue my trips abroad.
When I first heard that Projects Abroad would be spear-heading a local beach clean-up my mind quickly had flashbacks to traumatizing beach cleanups with my marine biology class back in Los Angeles. Although, the after sentiments were rewarding, the task of monotnously spending hours on the beach in the blazing sun picking up trash was painful. I blatently assumed that all beach clean ups had the same torturous routine. Luckily, I was wrong. At 8 in the morning my fellow conservationists and I pilled into the “J Guest House” truck with our sunscreen stained faces and matching tee-shirts. When we arrived other volunteers came to greet us and helped pull out our homemade (eco-friendly) marine debris/ plastic pollution presentation. After setting up we were seperated into teams; half of us were put on counting duty, while the other half were dubbed “team leaders”.
Twenty minutes into arrival and our little helpers showed up. Two large busses pulled up into the parking lot and slowly in single file fifty young Thai school children formed rows facing us. “Sawateeka,” they said in unison with a respectful bow. Through hand-held traslation from our Projects Abroad leaders, us volunteers and the wide eyed school children exchanged greetings and names. I was assigned to be a team leader, along with six other volunteers. We were given three different trash bags, gloves, and five school children. Walking up and down the beach we picked up trash from the ocean, the sand, and allot of entangled materials from the sea wall. The kids turned it into a competition, seeing who could collect more trash. They got so into it that some of them would race eachother to bottle parts and plastic bags.
Once each bag was full the children would bring it to where other volunteers were seperating and counting materials. It was amazing to see the kids become so enthralled in cleaning the beach, I too set my previous ideas about the beach clean up aside and became motivated and inspired by the school kid’s determination. By the end of the cleanup we were joking around with the kids, pushing them on swings, and comparing hidden gems within the trash.
The surprise of the day was that the local Thai coast guard came to help. This unexpected appearance was more than flattering to the Projects Abroad program because it meant that not only were we educating the children but we were also invigerating the locals to think in a more environmentally conscience way. The men picked up trash, laughed with the kids, and spent a long time looking at our marine debris presentation. I was so excited to see awareness in action.
The day winded down with the children re assembling back into their lines. Us volunteers lined up too and in what is a poor excuse for Thai, presented each child with a certificate of completion for the days activity. They were so cute, bowing and hugging all of us. The girls were especially friendly, while the boys just punched each other and fist-bumped our hands. This event not only changed my mind about beach clean ups it also gave me hope that through educating these children and holding more beach cleanups that we can shape the local ideology towards trash into an ecofriendly awareness about reality.
Leilah Franklin, age 18, USA
Getting muddy in the mangroves
Every monday is mangrove day, which is when we get out into nature and get our gardening on. The mangrove is a unique and interesting tree. There are 54 different species around the world, all of wich need a very specific ecosystem to survive. They need full sunlight, high nutrient contents and as one of few, the mangrove is a tree that can only survive when it has both salt and fresh water. It serves as a breeding and nursery ground for coral reef fishes as well as a nesting site for migratory birds and it provides food for animals in the surrounding waters. But this lovely tree's existence is threatened, among others because of deforrestation for human settlement, pollution and conversion to agriculture. Over half of all the mangroves in the world have been lost since 1945, mostly due to shrimp farming. It is such a shame because we humans need the mangroves, too. Found mostly on the shoreline they serve as buffer against waves and tsunamis, they play a big part in carbon dioxide removal and provide food and jobs for millions of people. Which is why it is so important for us humans to step up and change the fate of the disappearing mangroves. A start has been made, as the only country in South East Asia, Thailand has managed to increase its mangrove areas during the last 20 years. And to know that we are a part of this is just an amazing feeling. Projects Abroad contributes by setting up nurseries, replanting and raising awareness. Last monday, the 26th of september, we went with 8 volunteers to Ao Talan, a muddy, stinky place filled with adorable tiny krabs, spiders and other insects. We planted about 238 new mangrove trees that day. It is hard work but I love every second of it. When at the end of the day we are all tired, muddy and sweatty, sitting in a restaurant enjoying a fruit smoothie as a reward for our hard work, I can't help but feel blessed. For this project and the all of the people involved are pretty amazing.
By Aisha Kuipers, Netherlands, 29-09-2011
Stop, Breathe, Think, React- doing the Rescue Diver Course
As you get two courses free when you go on the Conservation Project in Ao Nang and I already did my Open Water Diver in Germany I wanted to do the Rescue Diver Course. After you finish your Advanced Open Water Diver Course you have a few options what to do afterwards but the only step that leads directly to your Dive Master is the Rescue Diver Course.
The course took three days and as I have been sick on the day that I’d actually was about to finish my AOW we (Marit and I) though began with the first lesson of the Rescue Diver on the 8. September, which means the Emergency First Response Course that you also have to do for your Drivers license. We had to watch a tiring, typically American movie followed by a written exam ( the first in the Rescue Diver Course), which was quite easy. The rest of the day we did some practical stuff like how to give rescues breaths and how to do CPR. The Emergency First Response consists of two parts : Primary and secondary care which you also both need for diving accidents.
The next week the actual diving practice started on the 14. September. Here we again watched a nice , very long, very boring and always repeating movie about – in general- the handling of diving accidents and how the Emergency First Response is connected to this. Finally we jumped in the pool, which was actually the one from the movie ‘’The Hangover 2’’- very beautiful. As it was the first day of practice we didn’t do any shore diving accident simulation. In general we saved each other and had to handle different situations like how to handle a panicking diver in comparison to a tired diver. The day was a lot of fun but though I thought about the final exam that was coming up the next day- it would include a written and a practical exam- because I was told by a friend who already did the Rescue Diver Course and my diving instructor Trice that it will be very, very hard, which is of course understood because you are not any longer only responsible for yourself but also for other divers.
I was getting to the Sheraton Hotel very nervously the next day because of the test. First up was the written exam. As I saw it I took a load off my mind because it was only 50 multiple choice questions and we had to pass with at least 75 percent. In the end Marit hat 95 and I 96 percent- so that was not that difficult- obviously. Next up was the practice which we this time did in the shore. It included things like searching for a lost diver, saving a passive panicked diver underwater and a panicking diver on the surface, aswell as a tired diver. The most exhausting thing was of course in the end: carry an unconscious Marit right to the beach; not that hard actually but as Trice said I did it wrong and I have to be fast, the second try I started running right away and for sure did a new record time.
Summarizing I can only recommend to do the Rescue Diver Course because it was sooooooo much fun and in the end …. You are a Rescue Diver and can help people without freaking out. Always stop, breathe, think, react- then everything will be fine.
Special thanks to Trice and Marit
Written by Zoe Ropella, Germany, 30-09-2011
SEPTEMBER MONTHLY UPDATE
Wow….what a month! September 2011 was nominated as International Clean-up month by environmental agencies worldwide. The conservation volunteers, together with our dedicated team, have been out there cleaning the beaches, the reefs and the ocean. In addition, we have been working on outreach projects, educating the local community and school children.
We have had a lot of rain this month, several monsoons passed through and we suffered some of the heaviest downpours this area has seen for a while. Although this weather soaked our volunteers out in the field, it never dampened their attitude. They surveyed the reefs, collected trash and worked in the mangrove swamps whatever the weather and came back laughing and smiling (and once or twice completely covered in mud!)
Despite the difficult weather conditions, the volunteers have demonstrated an incredible commitment to the projects we run here, through sheer hard work and a never ending supply of enthusiasm.
So let me update you on the specific projects…
Diving Based Projects
Reef Check Survey
Our Reef Check Survey is running smoothly as the volunteers are learning more and more about methods for monitoring the reefs. The volunteers surveyed 11 sites and we carried out our first survey at Koh Mae Urai where we found many healthy hard corals.
On 8th September we counted over 500 feather stars at Koh Bida Nok, these are a great indicator for the diversity of invertebrates on the reef. In addition, on 13th September, at Koh Yawasam, we saw many blue lined snapper, a species we have not seen before.
Our favourite find this month was a small hawksbill turtle hanging out along the coral reef, eating sponges at Anemone Reef.
Project AWARE – Dive Against Debris Survey
We carried out a total of 11 Dive Against Debris dives this month at 10 different dive sites, dedicating the last week of diving solely to this project.
Linnea was pleased to report that at Maya Corner, there was not one piece of trash found and only 0.5kg was collected at 3 other nearby sites. This is a very good sign.
From the other sites, we removed a lot of fishing tackle, line and found several traps. One very large abandoned fish trap had to be marked, then we returned with a lift bag to bring it up for disposal.
Our most interesting find this month was a Malaysian coin from 1969.
We removed a hefty 60kg of debris from the ocean this month – awesome result!
Land Based Projects
We concentrated our efforts this month at our Talan site. During September we planted an impressive 358 mangrove tree saplings which we had grown ourselves in our mangrove nursery.
Unfortunately when we returned on 26th September, 10% of our saplings had not survived the re-plantation process. This was an upset to our planting program, however, we have analysed the soil and other factors that may have affected the saplings and we will try a different species of tree in this area next month.
Beach Clean Ups
September saw us complete our first official data collection for the UNESCO funded Ocean Conservancy Beach Debris Survey.
We completed 3 beach cleans during the month, including two which involved the local community so that we could combine the clean up with education.
On 16th September we invited the children of Klong Muang School to join us to clean their local beach. This beach is used by the locals on the weekend for family picnics. Also the long tail boat drivers fix their boats along this beach. These two factors mean that there is a large amount of trash in this area. The Thailand National Guard who are based in the area saw our efforts and came out to help us! It was a remarkable gesture which reinforced our environmental message in the minds of the school children.
On 20th September we cleaned the beach at the Nopparat Thara National Park which is visited by hundreds of tourists each week.
Whilst on 30th September we got together with the local government and local dive centres, hotels and businesses to clean up Ao Nang Beach together. This was quite a display of community spirit and our display boards became the centre point of information for locals and tourists alike.
For those of you that like stats….
Total trash collected in September : 713 kg (159kg recyclable)
On 9th September the Fisheries Department asked us to help them repair their filter system in the outdoor aquarium. Working in line with the 3 R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) we used an old, discarded fishing net to make a filter to collect the debris that enter the tanks. We were informed that this system has been successful.
As always we strive to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint. This month we shifted towards a paperless office. We carry out between 5 to 8 surveys each week, which was producing an incredible amount of paper, so we have created our very own reusable Data Sheets from which we enter the data collected onto online spreadsheets, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Also, we have designed an organic composting system which we will be building next month. We predict that this will produce enough compost to use in our mangrove nursery and we have plans for building an organic vegetable patch too.
The volunteers have been making the most of their free time and have travelled by longtail boat over to Railay for the weekend, taken rock climbing lessons, trekked to the crystal cave and have been swimming along the river.
On Friday 24th, we all headed into Krabi Town to celebrate Punch’s 21st (again!) birthday. We had a great time, hanging out together and meeting local people, sampling great food including steamed spring rolls and bbq’d river fish, listening to live music, dancing the night away and, of course, eating lots of birthday cake!
The last week of September was super busy as we began the big move to our new premises at The Dawn of Happiness Eco-resort on Ao Nammao beach. We are all extremely excited to be officially moving in on 1st October, when we will celebrate with a beach party and BBQ, whilst watching the sunset over the sea.
As always, I would like to thank all the volunteers for their hard work and support for this project - we wouldn’t be here without you. You all make the world a better place, on every level.
Conservation Director, Thailand
The 16th of September was a lovely day, the reason the day was so lovely was because project abroad had his monthly dinner. All of project abroad volunteers came together to have a nice dinner and to getting to know the volunteers of the other projects.
For me it was also a great day because just before the dinner started, I landed in Krabi. Immediately when I arrived I met Gaii who was waiting for me at the airport, after the usual greeting and stuff (including the nice laughing attitude off Gaii) Gaii told me that I came at a good day because of the monthly dinner, so I became exited to be there and have dinner with all the volunteers.
After greeting everyone I took my seat and I began talking with some volunteers and the staff, there was a nice atmosphere. Then suddenly one of the staff members (Vishal, nickname V) said that Ingrid was going to give a speech, in this speech Ingrid was thanking everyone for working at project abroad ’’Without you guys there wouldn’t be a Project Abroad’’ said Ingrid. Right after the speech V was talking again and told us that everyone had to came to the middle one at a time and tell something about themselves (pretty clever). It was a great way to get to know everybody a little bit better which was important for me because I didn’t know anybody.
Eventually our dinner came and I was surprised, we had pizza and I was thinking ’’What, I am in Thailand and I get non Thailand food, where are the noodles the rice and the chicken’’ but nevertheless the pizza wasn’t bad and I enjoined it. When everybody was busy eating their pizza, V told everybody that when we were ready we could go to sanctuary and have a few beers and play pool or Wii (A bit confusing if the person his nickname sounded as Wii:P).
When we got to Sanctuary I got to talk more with my diving group and got to know them a little bit better. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay there al night, my group needed to go because they needed to get up pretty early for the next day, they were going to Railey beach and were sleeping there the next day. It was obvious I needed to go with them, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten home that night. I thought it was a bit disappointing for me because I hadn’t spoken to anybody. But nevertheless it was a great night with lots of enjoinment. Thank you Project AbroadJ.
Diederik Diepenhorst: The Netherlands.
(photos of the night available on facebook http:/
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