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Who creates the most plastic waste......

"Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Trash Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola."

The slogan used to promote Coco Cola in 1939 was very similar "Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Refreshment Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola." The reality of things now is that wherever you might be you see trash from the Coco Cola company.

A recent study of plastic trash found around the world, concluded that the Coco Cola company was the largest plastic polluter. When a group of volunteers collected over 480,000 pieces of plastic waste from around the globe, 11,800  pieces were from the Coco Cola company.

The company is thought to produce 8 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, of which the famous refreshment bottles. Made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, of which only 25% is recycled materials, the rest created new from fossil fuels.hey claim to increase the percentage of recycled items used by 2020, pledging to recycle a used bottle or can for every one they sell by 2030. A great pledge, but is that too late considering the damage already done to the environment. Why are they used and discarded so easily, is there a way to reduce the amount thrown away.

Well unlike purposely made reusable plastic containers, studied have shown that water and soda bottles shouldn’t be reused. Studies have indicated that the containers may leak DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) a human carcinogen, which leaks due the structurally compromised construction on the bottles.

So Coco Cola actually predates some of the plastic containers we are so used to seeing today, what did they do back then. Well they used glass, up till the 1960’s you find Coke only in glass bottles. Changes to plastic would have been down to manufacturing costs, cheaper to produce plastic than glass. But now we are paying the price, as plastic pollution reaches and all time high.

Don’t support companies, that save money at the cost of the planet. You as the consumer can make the change happen, if you don’t buy it they won’t produce it…..

Thank you for reading…

Bottle house......

A bottle house…..

When you live at the bottom of the ocean, it can be tough finding an ideal home. From sandy burrows, to rocky shelters there's a lot of choice but its hard choosing just the right one. Throw another option of a glass bottle, well now your talking.  

Glass, like plastic is a very common material that is discarded daily. Despite it’s ability to be recycled, a lot of trash documented all over the world is glass bottles. Regularly on ocean clean ups, we come across glass bottles in large numbers under the water.

Now although they are considered trash we don’t remove them from the ocean, once they’ve been submerged and here's why. Well in spite of them being used item we could recycle, the actually efforts to recycle a glass bottle once its found its way to the bottom of the sea.  It comes down to the time and resources recycling takes as, opposed to being able to just re-use an item for something else.

And that is what the sea does with glass bottles, once discarded you will often find marine life hiding in side from, Goby’s, to octopus. A shiny glass bottle can make a very attractive new home, some where that you can really make a home.

Come join us as we visit our artificial reef and see how we have incorporated some of the abandoned glass bottles  in to some of the structures we have sunken. These bottles have now become homes to many different organisms, including blennies.

Blennies are generally small fish, with elongated bodies and relatively large eyes and mouths. Their dorsal fins are often continuous and long; the pelvic fins typically have a single embedded spine and are short and slender, situated before the pectoral fins. The tail fin is rounded. The blunt heads of blenniiformids often possess elaborate whisker-like structures called cirri. As generll benthic fish, blenniiformids spend much of their time on or near the sea floor; many are reclusive and may burrow in sandy substrates or inhabit crevices in reefs, the lower stretches of rivers, or even empty shells.

So why not come join us on one of either our underwater clean ups, or visits to the artificial reef.

Ever been mistaken for something else....

Is it a stone?

Just like superman was mistaken for a bird, corals have a bad habit of also being mistaken for. However, the mistake could be far more damaging to the coral than it was for superman, as coral gets mistaken for stone. On many occasions, primarily due to it’s stone/rock like appearance and its lack of mobility.

In fact, there are a group of corals that actual have the alias stony coral, they are part of the Porites genus. They are characterised by a finger like morphology, and bilaterally symmetrical growth which is then able to form large massive and sub massive boulder like structures. Their growth shape also encourages burrowing organisms like, Christmas tree worms and clams.

This genus of corals can be found throughout the world in most tropical to sub tropical regions. A colony of this genus found on the Great Barrier Reef was believed to be approximately 700 years old, growing at a rate of 1 cm a year. 

This genus of coral is typically known for its ability to demonstrate a high level of halotolerance, basically changes in salinity levels. This comes in handy when living in tidal areas, when you could have salinity fluctuations of up to 30%. Just like many coral Porites, have a symbiotic relationship with a algae group known as zooxanthellae, which provides them with food, however when water temperatures rise and the algae stops production. The coral will resort back to feeding as a heterotroph, consuming small prey like zooplankton, or brine shrimp.  

Porites like many corals are threatened, by climate change, predation, and anthropogenic pollution. When exposed to increased temperatures and pollution the corals rate of production dramatically slows. On top of this the symbiotic algae also reduces in provided additional nutrient under these stressors.

With some of the Porites found across the globe being so old, what could they tell us about their past, what was it like being the oldest living stone back in the day. Well the skeleton of coral can actually tell us quite a lot. For instance, the salinity levels and oxygen levels at the time during their growth, this can be useful when reconstructing past climates. Helping us to understand the effects of El-Nino’s on corals in todays climate.

Want to learn more about corals and the wonderful world they live in then, how about signing up for one of our Ecological courses.

  • Coral Identification course
  • Marine ecology course

The climate scandal

The climate cover up……

The topic of climate change is a hot topic at the moment, with rises in global temperatures causing adverse severe weather anomalies all over the world. Affecting people lives and costing countries millions of dollar. With governments finally starting to see sense, and act on new bills that will protect the planet instead of harming it further there may still be hope.

But where did all this ignorance or annoyance of climate change come from, surely the science proves the facts. Well Climate gate happened, almost ten years ago, not long before the highly important Copenhagen climate talks were meant to take place.

Internet hackers stole 6,000 emails, and other documents from climate researchers at the university of east Anglia, UK. They then proceeded to pick out certain bits of information, and then sell them on to journalistic groups. These groups then used the selected information to create a false headlines about climate change, bringing out a new group of climate change deniers. These deniers pick and choose what that want to hear, and what others should hear. Wrong interpretations of highly credited scientists research led to a boom controversy on the climate change topic.

So much of the information was taken out of context, and used to discredit the work done by so many people for many years, and now 10 years after the incident. Many say that this event held us back from the work we could have been doing already. What did this act do to the way we see climate change now, and did this scepticism on the topic back then. Result in the way the world is now, all the scientists were trying to do is warn us, of the dangers we could face. A look in to the future we now see as a scary inevitably.

Climategate https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-48925015/climategate-10-years-on-what-s-changed

A climate scandal that could cost us the planet, if only the scientists were able to get the facts to the right people at the right time. Instead the information was carried like chinese whispers, a mismatch of vital data. 10 years on we openly talk of this indirect attack on our environment, as an act of terrorism against science. 

Fun facts you may not know about the animals found under the sea

Fun facts you may not know about the animals found under the sea

Facts about the fishes you may not know…..

  • Seahorse males are the only males in nature that give birth.
  • When a moray eel open and closes it’s mouth, its only taking a breath. Not trying to take a bite.
  • Chewing can be a pain wit no teeth so frogfish just swallow their food whole.
  • Getting slapped by a fish is a thing, as the thresher sharks uses its tail to slap prey when hunting.
  • Who can share the love more, well an octopus has three hearts. With a lot of love to give.
  • Tucking themselves in at night parrotfish create their own mucus sack to sleep in at night, that keeps them safe from predators.
  • A boxing opponent like the peacock mantis shrimp that has the power to vaporise water with a single punch, would be a little daunting.
  • Sea sponges are the true dinosaurs of the oceans, they have been around for hundreds of millions of years.
  • When lying on a beach you are on top of poop, yes parrotfish are responsible for over 85% of the worlds beaches. Now that’s a pooper trooper…..
  • If you see a group of Jellyfish to warn your friends quickly you can say get out it’s smack. The term used for a group of Jellyfish…..
  • The truth about Nemo was that his father would change to a female, as most fish are hermaphrodites and so to recreate the family sacrifices are made. However this situation would not make for a moral story in a disney movie……
  • The cheerleaders of the reef team are boxer crabs that carry anemones around like pom poms. Always cheering for their favourite team…….

Joins us next time for some fun facts, and sign up for a fish ID course to learn more facts about your favourite marine life. 

Animal clinic charity quiz night

Animal clinic charity quiz night

We did it for the animals…..

Our weekly quiz nights can be an unmissable event, but our latest quiz certainly wasn’t to be missed. Written and co hosted by our very own instructor trainer, Gus Rae. Putting together a quiz with such rounds as  who used this slogan, to name the cartoon, from this small music clip.  Plus we had some intermittent animal miming to earn your team and extra point.

All the money raised from the event went to our local animal clinic, which is responsible for the welfare of many of the animals on the island, from the small local birds to the lovable beach dogs. Many of the Cat’s and dogs lining on the island have no owners. No where to call home, and no one to care for them when they get sick. Except here on Koh Tao we have a wonderful collection of volunteers that work as part of the animal clinic.

Giving their time and knowledge to help those in need, and it’s hard. Living on a small island a couple of hours from the main land, has it’s many problems. Getting medical resources, building facilities big enough to cope with those in need, and also getting the animals off the island for further care.

So any little can help and thanks to the participates of the quiz, and any further donations, we were able to raise over 3,000 Thb in one night for local animal clinic. This money can go to the purchase of much needed supplies for the local strays.

Thank you to everyone that donated.

Sheep herding on Koh Tao

There is sheep herding here on Koh Tao.  But not in the way you may think.

When we say sheep herding on Koh Tao we mean it in a totally different way. We have no sheep on our small island as the area is populated with jungle and has many steep mountains. These would be a nightmare for herding sheep.  The sheep I'm referring to are found on our local house reef just off Sairee Beach.

Costasiella Kuroshimae is a species of sea slug found in the Gulf of Thailand. They are a shell-less organism part of the Costasiellidae family, that feed on algae and then absorb the chloroplast cells using them for photosynthesis. This is an exciting trait, making them almost completely solar-powered since they convert sunlight into energy just like the plants they feed on.

So going back to their sheep alias, their appearance is the main reason they picked up the nickname 'sheep nudi' as they look like small cartoon sheep with a big round head and what appears to be a fluffy body.  Usually, when you see one you’ll see many, just like a herd of real sheep.  And since they feed on plants, when you find them it can often look like a green field under the sea, with a herd of small sheep.  A strange mirroring of herds of sheep in green fields that you'd find on land!

So next time you plan to dive, join our eco team and explore the local house reef that is filled with many small and unusual characters like our local sheep nudi’s. There are always things to see under the sea.  A dive is a wonderful way to explore the underwater realm.

Australias burning crisis

Australias burning crisis

The trees are burning……….

Forest fires are a common scene in some countries at certain times of the year, some fires are started delibrilatly to reduce fuel for greater more serious fires. But when that small controlled fire is misjudged as something that is uncontrollable due to extreme drought and higher air temperatures, then your in trouble. Serious trouble that could cost thousands of lives, and hundreds of miles of natural habitat.

Over the past week Australia has seen the worst forest fire event in decades, with the local authorities declaring over a million hectres of natural forests alight with flames. Hundreds of people homeless and even more wildlife, struggling to cope with excessive damage caused by the fires.

The situation is only getting worst by the water resource status also hitting critical after one of the worst droughts seen for years. The country appears to getting hotter and dryer each year, and many say that the fires are symptoms of Australia climate crisis.

So how does this connect to conservation, well Australia is a unique area. Native animals to that area of the world, are limited and can not be found in the wild in any other locations. A geographically isolated location with it’s own animal and plant diversity, is under great threat.  As fires burn hundreds of miles of natural habitat is destroyed, killing thousand of locally found wildlife and taking the homes of many more.

The destruction of the natural landscape could also effect water catchment, in certain areas. Resulting in more surface flooding during rainy seasons, which could then lead to a reduction in water quality. Higher levels of bacteria, and reduction in oxygen levels leading to a loss of naturally found fish stocks. Floodings of populated areas could also lead to more pollutants making there way in the water table, which then flows in to the nearest ocean.

The fires could still keep burning for many more weeks, and as they do the planet cries in pain.  The fact that the burning of forests is not a headline in most news bulletins is a catastrophe in itself, as ignorance of the growing climate change circumstance is foolish. It affects so many, and to reduce the affects we must act now. For the sake of future generations we can not ignore the signs and symptoms any longer.

Thank you for reading.

“It’s a Moray”

“It’s a Moray”

A locally found fish here on Koh Tao is the species of White eyed Moray eels Gymnothorax thyrsoideus, otherwise know around the world as the Greyface moray. Small compared to others in the moray family. Measuring in at only a max length of 66 cm, and slender compared to other moray’s.

With their snake like body eels can be considered a usual and sometimes ugly or scary member of the marine world. However the more you understand about these sea serpents, the more you will find the intriguing and interesting.

For instance moray eels will launch forward at their prey grab it and then use teeth embedded deep in their throat known as phraryngeal teeth to draw the prey further in to their mouths. This helps them keep a hold of their prey and enables them to feed on small crustaceans, cephalopods and fishes.  This type of moray is actually classed as a carnivorous benthic fish, that usually stays sheltered during the day and leaves it’s lair at night to go hunt. Most eels prefer areas with lots of shelter, rock formations or wrecks can be a great area to locate an eel, or two.

So some more interesting facts that I find very intriguing about moray’s is their partnership they sometimes have with other predatory fish.  With an eels eyesight being generally poor, and having to use other hightened senses. Another way around this would be to have a hunting buddy, a friend to go out hunting with. 

Scientists have actually witnessed this relationship happening again and again, a grouper would swim up to a resting moray, give a couple of head shakes and off they go. With  the eel being long and slender, able to fit through small gaps, and then the grouper being larger and bulkier preventing an additional prey from escaping once flushed out by the eel.  This partnership has actually created a success rate 5 x greater than if they hunted alone. “Team work makes the dream work”.

Journal reference: Public Library of Science (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040431)

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10730-eels-and-groupers-hunt-better-together/#ixzz64OYXORpD

So next time you dive one of our local sites, keep a look out the magical serpent that is the moray eel, and maybe you’ll get a glimpse of the head shake, pro hunting team.

If you want to learn more about the many wonderful fish to be found around the gulf of Thailand, and how to identify them. Then why not sign up for our SSI Fish ID course today.

Water Goddess and river spirits

Water Goddess and river spirits

The spirit of the river

Loy Krathong festival is an event held all over Thailand to pay respect to the river spirits and the Goddess of water Phra Mae Khongkha. The payment is made by making a floating basket made of banana leaves, filled with traditional Thai dishes and decorated with flowers.

So, what significance does this festival have to our present environment, well it is actually refreshing to hear of a culture that still pays respect to the Gods of nature. A mythology where which to upset the spirits of the river would result in bad things happening to you and your family.

Many animals, including humans rely greatly on the supply of fresh clean water from the rivers around the world and if polluted or ruined. Could mean the loss of complete populations from those areas.

However, the tradition from generations past that used only naturally found items to decorate their Loy Krathong, now sees a change with the times. As many modern Loy Krathong’s are made from cheap synthetic decorative materials, like Styrofoam or polyester.

This use of unnatural materials results in the pollution of local waterways, and the endangerment of many aquatic animals. In 2016 Bnagkok Metropolitan Administration reported having to clean 6 tonnes of rubbish from the city’s waterways the day after Loy Krathong, recording that 7% of the Loy Krathongs made, were made using Styrofoam.

To combat this in 2018 the Thai authorities announced a ban in the use of Styrofoam in Loy Krathong floats, and this has resulted in a steady drop to 5.3% made from Styrofoam in 2018.

So, this year let’s make sure our blessing to the river god and spirits, is good and doesn’t harm them.  Use these items as an alternative:

  • Banana leaves
  • Lilly leaves
  • Native flowers
  • Naturally made candles.
  • Thai dishes made with locally found produce. (Examples banana, pineapple, or even papaya.)

 

Try to avoid upsetting the spirits by not using Styrofoam and any other man-made materials in your creation this year. And so, join us for this as we make this year’s Loy Krathong an environmentally friendly festival.

Hammerhead Shark at Koh Phangan

As the saying goes... if there's no proof then you didn't see it! But I think as clearly proved in the above photo taken yesterday on Koh Phangan - yes that is indeed a Hammerhead Shark! Not seen in the Gulf of Thailand before this little fellow was seen in the shallows off Hin Kong Beach yesterday. As a general rule single sightings tend to occur more frequently near to the shore whereas oceanic islands and sea-mounts are really where you want to be to experience a school in all their glory.AS much as I'd love to see a school in all their glory I'm just as excited to see this single fellow wandering around our waters. Now chances are he's going to head out to Sail Rock shortly so we'll plan a trip or 2 over the next week to see if we can't catch up with him underwater too.

Unfortunatley its not easy to identify what type of Hammerhead it is by this photo but what we know of hammerheads in general is that where scuba divers find scalloped hammerhead sharks, they may also come across 9 other related species which can be distinguished quite easily by appearance, mostly on the basis of the difference in their hammers. Great hammerheads are one of the largest flesh-eating fish in the world and can reach up to 7 metres in length. Its hammer lacks distinctive scallops on its T-shaped head which has 1 central notch. The smooth hammerhead, has a smooth edge to its flat head and a whitefin hammerhead shark, found only off the Ivory Coast, has white fins, believe it or not. Equally surprising is that the smalleye or golden hammerhead has small eyes and a golden hue on its body. The scalloped bonnethead hammerhead shark differs from the scalloped hammerhead most notably with its arc-shapped hammer.

As soon as we find out what type of Hammer this guy is we'll get right back to you with a report.

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Big Blue Diving
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Koh Tao 
Suratthani 
84360 
Thailand

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