Coral reef conservation and restoration, Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal protection, Education and Research.
Thailand is not only rich in biodiversity on land with its large amounts of national parks around the country; it also has a long coast line with both the gulf of Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea where a large biodiversity in fish, marine mammals and flora is found. With a very large fishing industry, rivers being used as waste outlet into those seas and the exploitation of several natural resources from the seabed as well as intrusive tourism these waters are under constant siege from the human population.
The Marine Education and Conservation Center in Chumporn province is aiming to educate the local community on conservation of the natural resources present in the area such as the coral reefs, population of sea-turtles, the giant clams, dolphins and whales. In cooperation with a local conservation society, schools and the district authorities we are working towards low impact fishing techniques, a ban on collection of giant clams (a protected species once widely available in the project area), the conservation and restoration of the coral reef on Khai Island (Koh Khai) and research and observation on the population of sea turtles, dolphins and whales.
The first project to be implemented is the construction of an extensive and comprehensive education center on the beach of Boh Mau facing Khai Island. This beach is currently heavily polluted and needs to be completely cleaned (which will be part of the first project). The education center will have extensive information on marine mammals, reef fish, coral and mangrove forests.
The second project will be the cleaning up of the coral reefs around Koh Khai and a study on the coral reef, its inhabitants and the quality of the water. Once it has been established which species are found on and around the reef we will do more comprehensive research on the amount of each species that frequently visit the reef or have taken up full time residence.
The restoration of the coral reef is the third and one of the most exciting projects to be implemented by the MECC. A large part of the coral reef on the west side of the island was been destroyed bit by bit by the dynamite fishing in the 80’s and was completely destroyed by Typhoon Kay in 1989. This area is now known in the whole country as the “Coral graveyard” and the MECC in cooperation with the “Friends of the environment” a local Chumporn conservation agency are now committed to restore this coral reef in the years to come.
Last but not least we are establishing a marine rescue unit based at the Boh Mau beach. This unit will be supported by veterinarians of the Wildlife Friends of Thailand, a four-wheel drive vehicle with rubber boats, re-floating pontoons for marine mammals and full diving equipment. Over the last 10 years dozens of dolphins and a number of whales stranded alive on the beaches of Chumporn, Prachuabkhirikhan and Surat Thani but were left to die there due to the lack of a proper equipped rescue unit. In cooperation with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources we hope to establish a rapid response unit up to international standard for this area.
The MECC will be looking for volunteers to help out with the project from June 2007 onwards. If you are willing to help out please read more here …