Big Blue Conservation - Marine & Community Projects

Bio-Rock is a technology that uses low voltage electrical current on artificial underwater structures to encourage growth of Corals and other reef life. Experiments with the technology worldwide have shown that it can help counteract some of the difficult environmental factors affecting coral growth.
In conjunction with Save Koh Tao, Big Blue and a consortium of other dive schools launched a pilot project a few years ago to see if the technology would be successful here. The pilot project has been so successful that a new larger Bio-Rock was constructed in 2008.


Now that the structure is in situ, regular dives are scheduled to the site for two main reasons. The first is to continue to plant broken Coral pieces on the structure and the second is to continue to monitor the growth of the test subjects.  When the structure was first finished, test subjects were placed on the structure and tagged so that their growth could be monitored. This information is collated by Marine Conservation Koh Tao for scientific purposes. When a dive group visits the structure, various data including photographs are taken and then forwarded to Marine Conservation Koh Tao.
For more information on the technology visit www.biorock.net.

Buoyancy world is brand new dive site with features designed specifically to take divers through training exercises without causing damage to the reef.
Buoyancy World was designed and constructed by the island’s community and dive schools through Save Koh Tao. The idea is that by teaching buoyancy skills on artificial structures in the water, we can help reduce dramatically the damage being done to the reef accidentally. The project also includes a coral and fish nursery try to restore and improve the abundance and biodiversity of Koh Tao’s reefs.
Below are some pictures of Big Blue staff constructing their contribution:

Features include of Buoyancy World include:

  • Training aids
  • Swim throughs
  • Balance beams
  • Hover weights
  • Rings, hoops and other obstacles
  • Search and recovery objects


Buoyancy World 2.0 Construction!

This week Big Blue Conservation have been drilling, hammering and banging all day... except this time it was to make our newest addition to our artificial reef and diver training site Buoyancy World 2.0! 18 members of Big Blue divemasters and instructors have been trying their construction skills making a new buoyancy aid to help train divers in buoyancy skills. Buoyancy skills defines you as a good or bad diver and we are always improving on them. However, even the most 'feather-like' divers can damage the reef during accidental contact. A project in the Red Sea found that divers inadvertently touched the reef 10 times a dive (photographers even more - and often not accidentally either!). So being an Eco-friendly island, we constructed a site dedicated to diver buoyancy training 2 years ago. Weathering and the populatrity of the site mean its time for a refurbish - and I'm super excited about trying out some of the new structures! Watch this space for the first time we dive it after deployment at the end of September.

One of the key causes of damage on the reef is rubbish that ends up in the ocean. Big Blue is proud to say that they always take part in the monthly clean ups that are organised on the island. You would be amazed at the amount of rubbish and some of the more unusual items that are found!
Along with other dive schools on the island, we gather a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers who give up their day to tidy up both on land and in the water. If you would like to volunteer for one of our clean ups, please email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Check out a video of our September clean-up here, and our November clean-up here

Coral nurseries are of increasing importance because Reefs around the globe are threatened by human activities. Like many parts of the world, the economy on Koh Tao is reliant upon our natural reef areas and the visitors they bring.
Koh Tao currently has a number of coral nurseries using different techniques for research and restoration purposes. It is hoped that coral colonies from these nurseries can help add to the reefs around Koh Tao and provide a means of restoring damaged areas faster than would naturally occur, as well as providing additional dive sites. A number of organisations including Save Koh Tao and dive operators on Koh Tao have begun constructing small coral nurseries to test the feasibility and success of different methods. So far 3 different types of structures have been test-built and all have been successful.



Big Blue conservation aims to contribute to this research, so that after a few months trial period the relative price and performance of each method can be optimised before making coral nurseries more widespread around the island. In the future, we would like to see a coral nursery near each dive site, and a few in places that currently are not being dived to provide alternative dive sites.
With nurseries in place in close proximity to dive sites, should a boat anchor or SCUBA divers break the corals, those fragments can be quickly brought to a secure growing area until they become large enough to transplant back onto the dive site. The nurseries themselves also serve as habitats for fish and a variety of other marine organisms, helping to maintain the reef abundance and biodiversity around Koh Tao.

 

North Sairee coral nursery

artificial-reefsWell, we all know and love our coral reefs. But unfortunately, diving and tourism pressure on the island is degrading our existing reefs. The solution? Make artificial ones! Marine conservation is vital for the long-term sustainability of Koh Tao’s economy and environment, and the artificial reefs serve to alleviate some of the dive and boat pressure from some of the more popular dives sites on the island.

The sites include:

  • Buoyancy World - an alternative dive site and coral nursery designed and constructed by the island’s community and dive schools through the Save Koh Tao group in 2009 and deployed near Twin Peaks. By increasing novice diver’s buoyancy skills with obstacles not found naturally on a reef we hope to reduce incidences of personal injury/illness and protect natural reef areas from damage. By also acting as a coral/fish nursery the project will help to restore and improve the abundance and biodiversity of Koh Tao’s reefs and help to offset local anthropogenic impacts. Read more in our Buoyancy World section.
  • The HTMS Sattakut and MV Trident wrecks - both boats were donated to Koh Tao to act as diver training grounds for wreck specialties, and artificial reef to encourage marine life to otherwise baron areas, and help spread the dive pressure to other sites than our reefs.
  • BioRock - this permanent new reef uses electrolysis to encourage coral growth. Again, it has turned this sandy sparse area into a healthy new reef! Just come dive it and see!! read more in our BioRock section.

Subcategories

Science Research

Monitoring

Regular monitoring of the reefs and the life that depend on the reefs is key scientific progress in  conservation and restoration. Marine Conservation Koh Tao have set up permanent monitoring transects at all the main divesites in Koh Tao and Big Blue schedules regular trips out to collect data.
We do alot of monitoring with a range of organisations, including Project AWARE, CoralWatch, ECOCEAN whale shark monitoring organisation, Save Koh Tao, Green Fins and Reef Check.
Read below for more details about each organisation:

What is Swim For Sharks?

The main event of our Swim For Sharks fundraiser is a 3.4km swim around the neighboring island Koh Nang Yuan. Everyone can join in, whether you are a competitive swimmer or enjoy snorkeling! There are 2 different races to compete in: competitive, or fun swim.

In the evening we celebrate the winners of the swim as well as everyone that took part. The evening starts with food, drinks specials, a big raffle with many prizes to give away, and the Shave-4-Sharks – volunteers raise money to have their hair shaved into a fin-like Mohawk!