On Saturday August 11th 2012 the diving community of Koh Phangan came together with the local community in a government supported initiative to
‘Keep Koh Phangan Clean, Keep Koh Phangan Green’
and Haad Yao Divers staff and guests were part of the operation! Divemaster Deb shares her experience:
Eight of the Haad Yao Divers staff accompanied 16 guests in a joint diving and snorkelling clean up task. The initiative was organised by the Thai Government with the support of the local diving community. Haad Yao Divers offered guests a complimentary dive or snorkel to assist with the clean-up operation and all staff offered their time to the cause.
The Thai Government hosted a breakfast at Chaloklum where there were speeches from government staff and local interested parties dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of protecting the local marine life. Local eco-organisations, also present, displayed information on their work with the local community, particularly the schools.
After a swift coffee with hundreds of other ‘orange shirted divers’ we climbed aboard. It was really great to see so many people present for the same cause and to know that everyone was there of their own accord and giving their time for free. Watching all of the dive school boats load up and pull off in an orange blaze was a real ‘moment’ – the sense of community and shared purpose was very strong. It was particularly good as the dive community (mostly farangs) mingled with the local Thai diving community – the first time I had seen this. It reminded me a lot of ‘dress down day’ at the office or ‘no uniform’ day at school as everyone was equal in their orange shirts – well mostly, it was dress like for me…
After a quick spin down the coast we moored between Haad Yao reef and Haad Tian beach. Our main mission: to inspect the reef for rubbish and remove any that we found. Supported by black bags and gloves we dived in! The job of removing rubbish from a coral reef requires skill as sometimes you can do more damage than good by pulling plastic that has nestled for so long that it is now part of the reef system. We received a thorough briefing from Nick Hough (HYD) on what to look for – (mostly plastic bags) and how to remove it (carefully) before we went down.We worked in pairs and used a good buddy system to spot and gather rubbish. Haad Yao Divers had not dived this site in a few years and we expected the worst but surprisingly there was very little rubbish – a good surprise.
After lunch, compliments of the Thai Government we moved over to Mae Haad for our second dive. We found this site to also be quite clean – another good surprise. We were joined on board by a government representative and an official photographer so there were plenty of snaps taken! The Thai Navy boat was also in the water as they were tasked with removing and relocating the clams that had been placed in the water to develop one year ago. The Giant Clam Conservation Project, brought about under the auspices of the Queen of Thailand provides support for the reef . The Gian Clams are essential to any reef system due to their filtration abilities but have been diminishing as a result of overfishing and theft, due to their beautiful shell. Much of this work has been carried out on Ko Tao.
With our black bags of rubbish safely back on board we made our way back to the pier where everyone disembarked – guests, divers, navy personnel and government representatives.
This was my second time to be part of a Project Aware dive trip. My first time was sadly to cut the fishing net out of the beautiful Sail Rock reef a few weeks ago. Doing Project Aware activities really helps you to value the experience of diving and to understand just how precious our marine life is, but more importantly to understand how easily it can be damaged.
For all of us who love diving it is essential for us to support and encourage environmental awareness because unfortunately it is not something that we can take for granted.
Check out more pics on our Facebook page.