17/18 Moo 1, Koh Tao Suratthani, 84360 Thailand         Info @ Big Blue Conservation        +66 (0) 077 456 179

Big Blue Conservation - Projects

We have great shark news to share with you. Two important steps for sharks have been taken in the past week as a result of all your hard work, spreading the word, shouting for sharks and petition signing! On November 22nd, the European Commission announced the long awaited proposal for closing the loopholes in the European Union’s ban on shark finning. And the European Union has become a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Sharks.

European fishing fleets play a major role in shark fishing worldwide with a number of loopholes in legislation which have long threatened sharks not just in European waters but globally too. We’ve been battling this issue for the past few years and you’ve made your voice heard to help us get there. Thank you! In 2012, we’ll be pushing EU Member States to agree to the proposal for a strong, loophole-free EU finning ban. And we’ll be pushing harder for our goal to protect vulnerable shark species from trade under the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the next CITES meeting in Thailand in 2013. There’s much to be done between now and then. As a member of the Shark Alliance, Big Blue is active in shark research and conservation, and if you like sharks and want to learn more, why not take the SSI Shark Diver Speciality course at Big Blue! Only 1 day, the course includes 2 dives and a special Shark Diver certification card. It's 2,700 baht and all proceeds go to shark conservation. Come give it a go! For now, thank you for supporting shark protection alongside Project AWARE.

Big Blue's DMT Cookie offered to shave his hair & beard on Xmas eve if people were willing to donate money to Big Blue Conservation & Save Koh Tao. DMT Dave grabbed the clippers, Cookie's hair came off and over 6,000 baht was raised. Hats (& hair) off for Cookie!

Microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain, a study has warned.Researchers traced the "microplastic" back to synthetic clothes, which released up to 1,900 tiny fibres per garment every time they were washed. Earlier research showed plastic smaller than 1mm were being eaten by animals and getting into the food chain.The findings appeared in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "Research we had done before... showed that when we looked at all the bits of plastic in the environment, about 80% was made up from smaller bits of plastic," said co-author Mark Browne, an ecologist now based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "This really led us to the idea of what sorts of plastic are there and where did they come from." Dr Browne, a member of the US-based research network National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, said the tiny plastic was a concern because evidence showed that it was making its way into the food chain. "Once the plastics had been eaten, it transferred from [the animals'] stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells," he told BBC News. In order to identify how widespread the presence of microplastic was on shorelines, the team took samples from 18 beaches around the globe, including the UK, India and Singapore. "We found that there was no sample from around the world that did not contain pieces of microplastic." There's not much we can do as divers about these microscopic pieces (unless you have Superman's telescopic ability...) but if you want to help us clean up larger pieces of palstic contributing to this accumulation, join us for a FREE DIVE on the last Saturday of every month on our Koh Tao Clean Up mission.

We all knew the techies like to do things of DEEPest importance, so over the past few days Big Blue Tech teamed up with Big Blue Conservation to be involved in a reef clean-up project. Our 2 premier dive sites here on Koh Tao had fishing nets reportedly on them ranging from 35m to 18m which were causing not only a detriment to divers visiting the dive sites but also were trapping the marine life. As this kind of project requires a certain knowledge level and expertise from a number of different sources we had a technical dive team (Cav & James) who were conducting the bottom/working phase of the dives, this meant that these guys could run into decompression if necessary and things would all be fine as everything was planned much deeper and longer than the actual depths. We also had a fish and marine expert (Emma), she was heavily involved in the organising of the actual trip and the person who was to brief all divers on dangerous and delicate marine life that was or may be caught in these nets. Also as with any project we couldn't have done this without the shallow support divers (Jason, Chris, Sarah & Rachel) and our fantastic surface cover guys (Nick, Stina & Sarah) who are simply there for the safety of the underwater teams, this requires great concentration and organisation to check everyone in and out of the water and make sure all limits were adhered to with respect to time and depth. The team managed to pull lots of fishing net off the pinnacles and save lots of the marine life that was entangled within them. Unfortunately there was a lot of dead fish that had been trapped for a number of days prior to us getting there which is a little upsetting. Now these nets are removed and everything is back to normal on these tropical paradise reef environments, the visibility is improving and the dive sites are ready and waiting for divers to come exploring. Congratulations to all divers involved in this project and thank you (from the deepest deco-depths of our hearts) for giving your time and efforts.

           

Nudibranchs, commonly known as sea slugs, are beautiful, diverse and incredibly intriguing marine gastropods. They curious creatures are snails with out shells, and breathe through branch like structures on their back (hence the name nuibranch or "naked branch") and come in an arrange of striking forms and colours. They are hemrphrodites and lay eggs within a gelatinous spiral. Something really quite stiking though, is someimes you can see many of the same species, all together. This rare behviour has been termed "trailing behaviour": Also known as queueing or tail-gating, all species of the chromodorid genus Risbecia exhibit this behaviour where they seem to play "follow the leader". Perhaps its a behaviour which has evolved amongst relatively uncommon animals to ensure they find each other for mating. When tailing, one animal appears to follow the mucous trail of the other until they actually make contact. Then the following animal, as can be seen in thse photos, keeps contact by touching the 'tail' of the leader. Sometimes 3 or 4 animals can be seen together. Pretty cool huh? And if that isn't enough - the steal their defense mechanisms from their prey - Nudibranchs that feed on hydroids can store the hydroids' nematocysts (stinging cells) in their skin. These stolen nematocysts, called kleptocnidae, wander through the alimentary tract without harming the nudibranch. Once further into the organ, the cells are brought to specific placements on the creature's hind body via intestinal protuberances. And I thought they were just really colourful...

photo credit: Dr Bert Hoeksema