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

Big Blue Conservation - Sightings

Here on Koh Tao we are lucky enough to the chance to see Sea Turtles during your diving or snorkelling. There are only 7 different species of Sea Turtle left on the planet and the majority of those species are threatened with extinction.  Here we mainly see the species of Hawksbill and Green Turtle, and so as a community we have started to ID and track our local turtles. 

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They have just hit 800 observations on the database which is fantastic and has really helped improve the quality this year. With some of the sightings showing a return of some individuals, a total of over 100 Turtles being recorded around the island.

While undoubtedly Koh Tao is an important location for turtles, we definitely need more input from outside the one little island. While the good news is that the database is growing and our understanding is improving (such as Betty, found by professional videographer Elisabeth Lauwerys as the first resident of Mango Bay in our records).

Unfortunately A quarter of all our Green Turtle recorded were found dead, even more if you include turtles that had to be rescued and/or sent to Chumphorn for hopeful recovery. Emphasizing more and more the importance for recording any sightings. 

By taking a clear picture of the head on both sides, and a picture of the entire turtle, using a algarythim for the scutes on the face and combining that with any clear marking on the shell. The individual can be recorded in to database, as a new or returning individual.

We then add the pictures to the Koh Tao Turtle Facebook page, from there they are added to the database. Koh Tao Turtles

Turtle ID pic

If your interested in learning more about Sea Turtles and how to identify the different species you could ask about the SSI Turtle Ecology course we offer.SSI Sea Turtle Ecology  

 

Whale shark on Twin Peaks!! After 2 months or so of having no whaleshark sightings on Koh Tao, divers on Twin Peaks yesterday were lucky enough to spot a small 3 meter whaleshark - hopefully this means we may start to see more of them.
Darcy from ECOCEAN commented "the lack of sightings maybe a result of the abnormally high sea temperatures we are experiencing; more likely a result of less planktonic matter in the ocean due to increased temperatures and therefore lower oxygen levels in the water" so hopefully with the whalesharks beginning to come back to Koh Tao, so the temperature is decreeasing - good news for the coral too!
Remember, if you have any photos of whalesharks spotted in Koh Tao, send in your photos and we can pass them on to ECOCEAN's international monitoring database, to help us track these behemoths of the deep!

     

Using NASA Hubble telescope technology used to map stars, ECOOCEAN map the spots on the side of the shark, much like a human fingerprint! Recording sightings like this has already helped us to understanding behaviours of these big beauties. Learn more on their website: http://www.whaleshark.org/

Yellow saddle goatfish work together to catch their dinner, according to scientists. When an individual chases its prey around a coral formation, others gather around to block escape routes. The unusual co-ordinated behaviour was observed by scientists in the Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt. Yellow saddle goatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus) are tropical fish found in the Indo-Pacific region, an area that is thought to be home some of the world's richest marine life. They have long whisker-like "barbels" protruding from their mouths, which they use to detect the movements of prey in coral reefs.

         

"The evidence is growing and growing that fish can show astonishing behaviours” Prof Redouan Bshary, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland The fish are known to live in groups that are based on their size rather than family relationships, with similarly sized fish forming groups. When a single goatfish chased its prey, the rest of the group worked together as a team to ensure its success: "Blockers" spread out across the coral formation to prevent the prey from escaping while the "chaser" pursued its target. Similar behaviour has only been identified in a handful of species - primarily mammals including chimpanzees, orcas, lions and dolphins, but also birds. Very few fish have been seen to "work together". If you fancy seeing this for yourself, Koh Tao has many goat fish species, including the Indian.

A rare white humpback whale calf has been spotted near Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Believed to be just a few weeks old, the 12ft calf was seen at Cid Harbour in the famous reef's Whitsunday Islands area by a family out in the bay in their boat. White whales are highly unusual with only 10 to 15 believed to exist among up to 15,000 living along Australia's east coast. Wayne Fewings was diving in the harbour when he spotted the animal surfacing and described the sighting as a 'once in a lifetime experience'. He said: 'We were just drifting when I noticed the smaller whale in the pod was white. I couldn't believe my eyes. 'Then the white calf approached my boat, seeming to want to check us out. I was just so amazed at seeing this animal, it made me think how truly astounding the Great Barrier Reef is.' The calf's parents may both have been dark humpbacks carrying a recessive white whale gene, but Great Barrier Reef official Mark Read said one may also have been white themselves.


     
That raises speculation that the calf could be the offspring of famous white humpback Migaloo. Migaloo - the name is an Aboriginal word meaning 'whitefella' - is the world's best-known all-white humpback and has built up a loyal following in Australia since first being sighted in 1991. Humpback whales are currently on their southern migration, and the baby will be feeding heavily from its mother as it lays down fat stores for the 'cold Antarctic waters'. Its sex was unknown and Mr Read said there were no plans to give the young mammal a name of its own. Australia's east coast humpback population has been brought back from the brink of extinction following the halting of whaling in the early 1960s.

Here on Koh Tao we are lucky having the chance to dive with whale sharks every other day. Only about 1% of the Earth’s population has ever seen a whale shark, let alone been diving with one! A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest shark AND the biggest fish on the planet. It’s not a whale, even though the name might fool you! They are easily identified with their light colored dots on darker skin and a constant massive grin. Its mouth can be up to 2 meters across, has about 8,000 tiny teeth and still they only feed on plankton and the occasional small fish. Whale sharks are filter feeders and for every pound the whale shark weighs it needs 20 pounds of plankton to fill up! Even though their skin is really thick (up to 17 cm) they don’t like to be touched and here at Big Blue we go by the Divers Etiquette Whale Shark Code and always leave at least 3-4 meters between us divers and the whale shark. There is still a lot we don’t know about these beautiful creatures and it is especially hard trying to define their maximum size, age and weight! Stories have been told about 21 meter long giants but the largest verified whale shark was caught in Pakistan in 1947. That whale shark was 12.65 meters and weighed over 15 tons!

       
     
Whale sharks are known to be solitary creatures but in 2009 of the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico over 420 whale sharks were sighted at the same time. Sadly, whale sharks are still kept in aquariums all over the world. What scientists do know is that these animals like their space. Still, four whale sharks are being kept in one tank that is 10 meters deep, 35 meters wide and 27 meters long and holds the equivalent of 3 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water which makes it a big tank but no way near big enough… Luckily most of us prefer them in the wild, where they belong! If you haven’t seen one yet – well, sign up to go diving with the best dive master & instructor team on Koh Tao, next whale shark could be seen tomorrow so don’t miss out!