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

Big Blue Conservation - Projects

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

Today fun divers at Big Blue are doing a shark dive trip! Koh Tao has a few areas where reef sharks use as a nursery, and so our divers are going to say hello later today - lucky things!

Overfishing. Finning. Endangered. These are words we shouldn’t associate with critically important ocean species like sharks. But sadly, these words are now commonplace in the shark world.

Fortunately, as a strong and growing movement for the ocean – divers and our allies are standing together to demand the end of the international shark slaughter, and insist that the ocean be restored. Science tells us sharks are critical to healthy and thriving marine ecosystems. When sharks are slaughtered, the ecosystems are worse off. When we stop killing them, ecosystems can thrive once more.

The good news is, by putting our plans into action with your support and that of our many fellow divers, we can do the work to make that change happen.

           

During the coming months we’ll engage divers at Big Blue in sharks on Koh Tao and help put pressure on world governments to protect vulnerable shark species at the highest level by asking them to sign the petition aimed at asking the government to protect them – through the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).  CITES is the world’s largest, most effective wildlife agreement in existence.  The next meeting of CITES takes place in March 2013 and with our divers support we will be there to advance a multi-year effort to control international trade in vulnerable shark species. Through CITES, our conservation community was able to rein in the uncontrolled trade in marine turtles that was threatening many of these species with extinction. As a result turtle populations are recovering worldwide. We can do this work successfully for sharks as well - with your help.

If you want to sign the Project AWARE petition, follow this link.

Divers from Big Blue and New heaven joined forces to restore the giant clam population on Sairee Beach yesterday. Over the last year, we have been cultivating over 300 clams in a nursery off Aow Leuk bay, and yesterday we took 69 of them to their new home in Sairee!

Clams are filter feeding invertebrates who keep our water quality nice and clean. Due to predation, pollution and people collecting them to use their shells for jewellery, ornaments and for the aquarium trade, our populations of clams on Sairee have depleted and need a little help. So, 25 divers from Big Blue and New Heaven came together to re-home some of the nursery clams. When clams reach over 15cm, they begin to put down a permanent "foot" using strong muscle fibres. We took clams from the nursery that were around 12-14 cm and relocated them to suitable areas on Sairee. Now they are settling into their new home, and we will keep a close watch on our new reef additions!

           

Today was a good day in the fight for stopping illegal fishing. . .Yesterday the Fisheries Department found a non-local boat using cages to fish in the protected zone around Koh Tao, and arrested all 5 on board, including the captain. On board we found hundreds of fish, including; scribbled filefish, trigger fish, bat fish, big groupers, cobia, sweetlips, and of course tons of snapper, rabbit fish, and fusilers. they had also been collecting large cowrie shells.

Today they made the captain return to the locations were his cages are placed (with the Marine police, the local government, and members of Save Koh Tao) to empty the cages. Rosemary Allen of FilmCo was there and got it all on tape, so stay tuned to see the video with interviews from the people involved.

Great job Save Koh Tao! Glad to be working with you!

           

Well I have to say, what a great success Earth Day was at Big Blue yesterday! Earth day is an annual event on April 22nd to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment, and how we showed our appreciation! To start with, a dedicated bunch collected over 200 kgs of rubbish from Sairee beach, including a lot of chicken heads! Not what you want to be sunbathing next to i think! But no worries - we cleared them all up, the sand is polished and fish much happier. Then we headed out on a FREE dive to clear rubbish from under the sea - again, a great success collecting over 100 kgs of marine debris such as plastic bags which can kill marine life like turtles. Everyone had a great day helping out, and if you want to get involved, we do a Beach adn Underwater clean up on the last Saturday of each month, so come join in!

But the fun didn't end there. Big Blue was joint by Crystal and Phoenix dive schools in a Beach Volleyball tournament, which raised over 1,500 baht for Shark conservation, including 96 signatures in support of shark protection. Phoenix Divers were the overall winners - beating every team they challenged! Well done Phoenix! Bad luck Big Blue, but at least we beat Crystal.

After the Beach Volleyball, we all joint forces in the bar to show off our match scars and participate in the Earth Day Raffle. Aquamaster, Big Blue Conservation Big Blue Diving, Big Blue Tech, Higher Ground Bar and Phoenix divers all donated prizes , and we raised over 7000 baht to go towards providing materials for more people to organise beach and underwater clean ups around the world, helping to keep our oceans clean and healthy. A huge thanks to everyone who came along and supported the day - it was such a great success! Join us again next year! And Phoenix beware....we have already started practising...