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

Big Blue Conservation - Sightings

Well haven't we come into a bit of luck! Despite monsoon season looming ever closer, the diving has never been more glorious. we are still enjoying crystal clear calm waters and sunny weather, but on top of that, how about adding 3 whalesharks spotted at Chumphon today and yesterday? Yes please! To have so many whalesharks in close proximity to our reefs means only one thing - that our reefs are producing alot of food for these massive creatures. Usually preferring the solitary life, whalesharks are known to school only when there is high productivity in an area, such as Ningaloo reef in Aus and our very own Chumphon Pinnacle! Whalesharks feed primarily on plankton, with over 8,000 bristle-like teeth filtering the waters for these tiny tasty treats. Whalesharks are thought to detect areas with high productivity (high amounts of plankton) through chemical sensing. Sharks have 2 extra senses than us - the jelly-like filled channels in their nose known as the Ampullae of Lorenzini detect electircal pulses in the water and are used to locate food, mates and danger. They also have sensitised lateral lines - two lines that run either side of the whalesharks body which help detect movement in the water. Although we know this, we still don't fully understand these huge beauties, such as where they reproduce. There is a lot of research still being conducted on whalesharks, some of which we contribute to here at Big Blue Conservation. Pretty cool huh? And you can see them in all their glory at Chumphon right now!

       

On Koh Tao, we love our sharks. Whether it's snorkelling or diving with them, or watching a documentary on these ancient fish, we're there. So we want to make sure our shark populations on Koh Tao are being well looked after, so we have started the KOH TAO SHARK SURVEY. The aim of this group is to keep a database of our shark populations on Koh Tao. If you've seen a shark on Koh Tao, please submit sightings of ANY sharks, preferably with photos, where it was seen, the date and time, the depth of the shark, any behavioural observations and distinct markings or scars, and the sex of the shark if known (males have claspers, females don't). You can send us this information through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or join our group on Facebook ("The Koh Tao Shark survey"). Even if they were sighted a while ago, if you have photos then please submit these too! This will help us monitor our shark populations on Koh Tao and provide us with observational data for research. All whaleshark photos we will submit onto ECOCEAN's Whaleshark database too. ECOCEAN and the Shepherd Project will use this information to assist scientific research and global conservation initiatives.

The information that you submit is encapsulated in an "encounter" that ECOOCEAN tracks.  Each encounter is assigned a unique number, and you can view that encounter at any time using the link below or by going to the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library (http://www.whaleshark.org). They will keep you informed of any changes to your submitted encounter, and email you if the shark is matched to another shark within the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library.  We will also let you know if/when and where your shark is resighted by other community members.

We have started to see many species of sharks return to Koh Tao, such as the Bull sharks and white tip reef sharks at green rock, so it's a great opportunity to have one place where information can be submitted and collected to help monitor the shark populations. Thanks!

So normally I post positive things about conservation action and developments in marine biology, but today I have some news. Unfortunately our artificial reef on Sairee suffered a horrible fate yesterday. Thanks to recent zoning plans and numerous mooring lines all around the island, anchor damage is now rare on Koh Tao. However, yesterday a dive boat dropped an anchor within metres of our coral nursery and artificial reef, and when we asked the captain to pull it up, he instead dragged anchor along with one of our structures 20 metres, destroying corals that we helped propagate on our nursery. Two years worth of coral growth was destroyed as the anchor dragged our poor dome and the concrete mooring block it was attached to before hitting the existing reef and damaging that too. The annoying thing is the boat was also attached to a mooring line - so why the need for the anchor? The boat was seen dropping the anchor by two divers maintaining the nursery at the time, who just about managed to get out of the way as the structure was destroyed. Despite us telling the dive school twice yesterday, the anchor is still there, and the boat still using it to moor on. They are also no where near where they normally moor up either.

           

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dive schools tell your captains that if there isn't a mooring line for them, we will set them one up for free. Dropping an anchor can has immediate drastic effects to our reefs, and on a shallow sheltered site like Sairee with so many mooring lines already, there is no need. This anchor has done significant damage to both existing and artificial reefs, and it's lucky that the divers were not hurt in the process. I can't wait for the next Save Koh Tao season.

A DAY after watching a film about being lost at sea, Toakai Teitoi was trapped in his own nightmare, drifting in a wooden boat for 15 weeks - before a shark helped to rescue him.

The 41-year-old Kiribati policeman and father-of-six relived his harrowing voyage in the central Pacific when he arrived in Majuro on Saturday on the Marshall Islands fishing boat which picked him up last week.He told of sleeping with the body of his brother-in-law who died during the ordeal, suffering severe dehydration and praying to be found alive.

Mr Teitoi's drama began when he joined his brother-in-law Ielu Falaile, 52, on what was supposed to be a two-hour sea journey back to Maiana in a 15-foot wooden boat.

But after stopping to fish along the way and sleeping overnight, they woke the following day to find they had drifted out of sight of Maiana and soon after ran out of fuel.

"We had food, but the problem was we had nothing to drink," he said.

As dehydration took hold, Mr Teitoi, a Catholic, said he turned to prayer as it gave him strength. But Falaile's health began failing and he died on July 4. "I left him there overnight and slept next to him like at a funeral," Mr Teitoi said. He buried his brother-in-law at sea the next morning.

Only a day after Falaile passed away a storm blew into the area and rained for several days allowing Teitoi to fill two five-gallon containers with a life-saving supply of fresh water.

"There were two choices in my mind at the time. Either someone would find me or I would follow my brother-in-law. It was out of my control." He continued to pray regularly and on the morning of September 11 caught sight of a fishing boat in the distance but the crew were unable to see him. Dejected, he did what he had done most days, curling up under a small covered area in the bow to stay out of the tropical sun.

Mr Teitoi said he woke in the afternoon to the sound of scratching and looked overboard to see a six-foot shark circling the boat and bumping the hull.

When the shark had his attention it swam off.

"He was guiding me to a fishing boat. I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me."

So the shark guided him to a fishing boat and safety. Sounds like a pretty JAWesome shark if you ask me!

source: Herald Sun, Australia

Take a look at these amazing images as underwater models brought the worlds of fashion and the ocean together in the shoot of a lifetime by freediving with 30-foot-long whale sharks.
Instead of flaunting their curves on the catwalk like other international models, Hannah Fraser, 36, and Roberta Mancino, 32, gamely dived up to 25-feet-deep into the ocean, complete with designer attire, for a one-of-a-kind photo-session posing in the wild with the 18-tonne world's largest fish.
The sight of top-models perfectly mimicking the graceful poses of whale sharks as they swam through the tropical waters of the Philippines was the brainchild of US photographers Shawn Heinrichs, 41, and Kristian Schmidt, 35, who spent four-months planning the five-day photoshoot.
The images come out only days after a whale shark was found by a scuba diver, still alive and trying to swim. Its pectoral and ventral fins were cut off by poachers who sell shark fins at a premium for the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. Locals, with the help of local government, pulled the still-struggling shark to shore where it died the next day.
This is not just something caused by Chinese fishermen, it is a global problem. Shark Fin soup is sold all over the world, even in the UK.

           
     
Mr Heinrichs described how they were able to take the incredible shots, by tapping into the knowledge of locals in the Philippine village of Oslob, where fishermen have developed a special bond with the whale sharks they share the ocean with.
'Each day the whale sharks come in to the shallow waters of the village and the fishermen feed them small handfuls of tiny shrimp,' he said.
'For a few hours a day, the whale sharks sit peacefully beneath the canoes waiting for a tasty treat.
'I had a real sense of how work with human subjects and these magnificent animals.
Combined with Kristian's expertise working with fashion models, we had all the tools necessary to get the job done.
'Managing composition, position of sunlight, and working with the models to connect with the whale sharks enabled us to really make these images shout.
'The experience, confidence and natural beauty that Hannah and Roberta brought to the project was a decisive factor in making the shoot such a huge success.'
Shawn explained the impact their underwater fashion shoot with whale sharks has already had with viewers.
'People are blown away by the images,' he said.
'Most find it hard to believe they are actually real - many people assume the models are photo-shopped into the picture.
'Though cleaned up and enhanced with colour and lighting effects as in any fashion shoot, nothing has been added to the images, including the models
'People are immediately taken by the connection between these models and the sharks, the juxtaposition between these beautiful vulnerable women and these creatures of the deep.
'The beautiful form, light and composition create a surreal world that really captures people's imaginations.'
Bringing art and whaleshark conservation together will only help our conservation aims. Please support the fight against shark finning.
* Spread the word.
* Share photos and stories such as this.
* Sign petitions. This one is petitioning the UN for a worldwide ban on shark finning: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/532/581/725/?cid=FB_TAF
* Write to local restaurants serving the dish: Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation have a celebrity-signed template letter and map listing restaurants in the UK selling shark fin soup. Find them here: http://www.bite-back.com/shark-sightings-map/
Most of these things can be done with such minimal effort, just a few seconds, or few minutes, of your time. Collectively our voices DO make a difference. Countries and cities have successfully implemented bans on the sale of shark fin products as a result of individuals coming together to make a stink about it.
Source: dailymail.com
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2259016/Strike-pose-hold-breath-Fashion-models-underwater-freediving-photo-shoot-30-foot-long-whale-sharks.html#ixzz2IIVP4BnC