The Conservation Project on Phra Thong Island has been running since 1996 in collaboration with the Phuket Marine Biology Center (PMBC). The project is registered at the National Research Council in Thailand. Naucrates was formed 2001 as an NGO to manage the project.
Running parallel with the scientific work that has allowed conservation strategies to be designed and applied to the local natural resources, an educational programme in the local schools and conservation awareness activities has also been carried out.
Since 1996, we have found and protected nests belonging to 3 different species of marine turtles: Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Green turtles. During the past 20 years many volunteers and interns from different countries have helped to collect valuable information, to apply conservation strategies and conduct education and awareness activities.
On 26th December 2004, the project base was completely washed away by a tsunami. Our little museum, the volunteer huts, the instruments, the turtle tank, etc. were lost to the Andaman Sea. However, this is a material loss and nowhere near comparable to the loss of two members of the Naucrates team who were working on the island that day.
For couple years GBB Resort offered Naucrates a base for field operations and 2008, the project base move to the Lions village (previously Pak Chok), which was rebuilt after the tsunami. Naucrates has 2 houses in the village and these have been a used as staff accommodation, office, kitchen and storage. Participants have stayed in the local homestays.
A Conservation Community Center (CCC) was set up using two other houses in the village. The Center includes a display room of natural resources and community traditions and a meeting area. The CCC aims to provide information about the island flora and fauna, likewise about the people and their traditions.
In 2012 our long term cook Lamyong and her partner Nok moved out of the village and started their own bungalow place near beach 1. They offered Naucrates the chance to move with them. We did not want to leave the Lions village totally, but could see the benefit of staying closer to the beach. So for several seasons Naucrates team has been based in both locations, offering participants the possibility to live in a local family and enjoy the hospitality of the local business close to the beach.
The project is mainly working towards the conservation of natural resources of the island, collecting information and applying conservation strategies; at the same time, the project works on developing capabilities in the local community, providing training and support. Therefore, we feel it is important to support the local businesses and enhance their capabilities to do proper eco-tourism.
Volunteers and interns that join us help with the practical work and by bringing different skills and knowledge gear the project to improved version of itself. The economic contributions of participants are a big part of the financing of the project activities as Naucrates has not received any governmental money or large grants.