I’m on the island of Koh Tao for 3 weeks. We’re learning about marine conservation and coral reefs. More on that later. Today was my first snorkel.
After learning a bit about what we’d be seeing, we grabbed our gear and got on the boat. Gear included: wet suit, snorkel mask and tube thingy, fins, fish and coral id sheets, and sheet for recording what we see. We weren’t just snorkeling, we had to record all of the indicator species we saw. The conservationists will use the information to help them better understand and keep track of the health of the coral reefs of Koh Tao.
We took a long tail boat to a bigger boat that took us out to the dive site. We snorkeled, but others scubaed. Scuba is more intense. There’s more gear and training involved. But you can go deeper and see more stuff. I think I’m gonna try it out next week. Stay tuned.
In order to ensure consistency of data collection, the same section of the reef is surveyed each time. The survey is called an EMP, or Ecological Monitoring Program. A measuring tape is laid between 2 fixed points 100 meters (328 feet). The distance is broken into 20 meter sections and you swim in a zig zag across the section 2.5 meters on each side of the line. As you go you count how many of each indicator species you see.
I went sans fins, for my broken foot. Swimming isn’t too bad on my foot though. I thought remembering to breathe threw my mouth would be hard, but I did ok. I did swallow a fair amount of sea water though.
We were in the water for about an hour and saw a lot. Here’s a list:
- Boring clams-a type of giant clam. They definitely aren’t boring. They’re beautiful and multicolored.
- 2 types of sea cucumber
- Neon blue and green fish (I think they were parrotfish.)
- Sea slugs
- Longtail bannerfish (remember the fish in Finding Nemo, in the fish tank, the older guy who masterminded the escape?)
- Lots of coral and algae
- Butterfly fish
- Trigger fish
It was a successful afternoon. We’re also learning about the importance of coral reefs and their conservation. Tomorrow we’re gonna talk about artificial reef construction, then we’re gonna help build.
If everyday is like today, it’s going to be an incredible 3 weeks on Koh Tao.